|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Jul. 12, 2004 - 3:25 p.m.
My Car Stinks
Hey - remember when Lance Armstrong forgot how to ride his bike last week and rode the entire course in a hot air balloon by mistake ?
Ooo! Ooo! How about that time Michael Jackson forgot who he was and had sex with a woman? A grown woman.
I know!! Did you see Ronald Reagan explaining at the news conference today that his Alzheimer's just made him THINK he was dead, and it was all a big mistake?
Does anyone here listen to NPR? On 'Morning Edition' they interviewed a Muslim terrorist who claimed he was to have hijacked the FIFTH plane on 9/11, but forgot where he was supposed to go and hijacked a really fast rollercoaster instead. Anybody catch that?
Well I know you saw this one:
A certain Diaryland luminary who shamelessly flogs his cooking skills here time after time forgot that Chinese Silver Loaves are supposed to be STEAMED, not baked!
Thank you to all - and I think there were more this time than following my "Blowjob" and "Anniversary Gift" posts - who were kind enough to leave me notes and drop me e-mails, all pointing out what an ignorant gwailo I really am.
Ok, ok. Yeah, yeah. You know what? I know that Chinese Silver Loaves are supposed to be steamed!
SHUT UP, I DO!
Well, I do NOW, anyway.
Here's what I wish I could truthfully say:
"It was 4 o'clock in the morning. NOTHING makes sense at 4 o'clock in the morning. Not even realizing that attempting a recipe one finds in a First Person Shooter video game is a silly thing to do. I was still so foggy when I tossed it together that, while I knew in the back of my mind that steaming was the proper procedure, baking seemed the better option. Blame it on the hour."
I'm an idiot.
And no ammount of professional cooking training can override that it seems.
But I kid you not: I knew that they were supposed to be steamed. I knew!!
Well actually, I knew that Silver Pillows were supposed to be steamed.
See, I grew up learning to cook Chinese almost before I learned Italian. My best friend's father was an internationally renowned scholar of Chinese history and politics. He happened to be attending the University of Madison (Wisconsin) on an international scholarship when the Cultural Revolution broke out back home, and upon hearing that Mao's golden path was to be lined with the dead bodies of scholars he decided to extend his stay in Round Eyed Devilland to appoximately 5 years ago, when he died here. He really WAS a luminary - unlike your dissembling host - who was often consulted by the State Department on matters of foreign affairs when they involved China. His counsel figured prominantly in the leadup to Richard Nixon's historic visit, as a matter of fact.
Because I hung out with "Number One Son" (what he really called him) I was afforded a number of singular honors. One of which was frequent trips to Chinatown in lower Manhattan, where I would be allowed into shops and restaurants normally only accessible to actual natives (whether because of language or cultural barriers). That's where, at age 10, I was introduced to tea rooms that served real Dim Sum - a passion for which still burns, especially on Sunday mornings. I learned how to play - and lose my shirt badly at - Mah-Jongg and Go (or "Wei Ch'i" as they called it).
And I learned how to cook homestyle Chinese stuff.
Most of Mr. Li's preparations could only really be called 'peasant cooking', and probably were holdovers from his bachelor days back in Madison. Like any college dorm dweller with a hotplate and a starvation level stipend, he didn't exactly splurge on ingredients. And after he got married he never really saw the need to expand much beyond that when he took to the stove. But simple as they were, the exotic ingredients and almost unfathomable techniques he used were a far cry from the pasta and tomato cuisine I was accustomed to at home. It seemed so exotic, even if was only some greens and flavored sauces tossed in a wok and ladled over rice.
Then when I was about 12, I started bugging him to make some of the dishes we'd tried in Chinatown the week before. Not that I wanted to taste his efforts, but rather so I could watch over his shoulder and learn for myself. And the first thing badgered him to make was the wonderful filled buns that we would bring home by the dozen.
Well, he saw right through me. When you're 12, you think that adults are much more talented than they are. I know better now of course, being a dolt of an adult myself. And Mr. Li, for all his academic acumen, was not a professional chef. Asking him to prepare Ma Po Tofu or whole oil-braised carp would have been like asking my dad to perform all the Chopin etudes just because I once heard him pick out 'Chopsticks' on a Casio.
What Professor Li did instead was buy me a wok, ladel, steam basket and a book on basic Chinese cooking - all of which I still have except the steamer. It was bamboo, which eventually wore out. I replaced several over the years, and also added a metal steamer and numerous other items. And I still use them all, too. In between my French and Italian dishes I mean.
I did eventually learn how to make those filled buns too, although it was several years before I attempted them.
Now here's the kicker: Mr. Li - and I, by default then - called these stuffed buns either "Pillows or "Silver CLOUDS" (they seemed interchangeable). I haven't made them in several years, but I do recall that a mix of starches were used in the dough - rice, potato and taro flours were the most common, in varying proportion. That seemed to be the secret to producing a really fine texture, more so than what wheat flour could produce. And the stuffing, while often the bbq'd pork blend that many of you seem familiar with, could as easily have been also a flavored bean paste, or sesame, or lotus root, or... you get the idea. It was the Chinese pasta. Toss anything in there, and it's good.
Did I make the connection: Silver Loaf = Silver CLOUD when I saw that recipe?
Of course not. I saw the work "loaf" and my one track Man brain fixated on "Sandwich Loaf". Although I'd been eating, making, vomitting up, and talking about Chinese filled buns - STEAMED filled buns - for 3/4 of my life, it still did not ring any bells when I saw that stupid recipe printed out in front of me.
Oh, I suppose I could make the defense that I was used to seeing other flours, and you CAN bake the buns if you alter the process just a little (which you sometimes find at Dim Sum breakfasts). But still,
You can all stop writing to me now with your helpful recipes and scathing comments about my level of poser-ness. I know, believe me I know.
Last night on my way to work - at 2:20 am - I saw what looked like a small infant crawling across the road. Instinctively I sped up to hit it, but at the last second swerved madly when I realized the Mighty WRX was about to plow over not some wayward hirsute toddler in a black diaper, but a very large, very belligerent skunk. He was mostly all-white, save for a broad black swatch across his hindquarters. And it was in his hindquarters that I found myself in the crosshairs of. I'm sure you've all seen a skunk's attack posture: tail up, business end facing the object d'spray, steely unflinching gaze. Skunks know they're badasses. Literally.
I had hoped he would recognise my wildly evasive maneuver as a sign of my unconditional surrender, but like any good US Army trooper who is trained to fire at the back of a fleeing civilian, he let fly with everything he had. And everything he had was considerable.
I don't think the actual volume of butt juice that traced a line down the passenger side of my Subaru was all that much, but what it lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality.
Oh my god, no wonder skunks are not considered a food animal! I swear, there was probably less than a hundred cc's of fluid spray on the Mighty WRX, but the smell was so bad you could actually HEAR it.
And it sounded like this: "OWWWWW!! OOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW!!"
On reflection, that sound was coming from me. The smell was so bad it physically hurt. Opening the windows didn't help - that only blasted more inside. Closing the windows didn't help - the fog of horrific odors started to coalesce into droplets and soak into my clothes if they weren't blown out the window.
I drove 50 more minutes through the dark, sobbing and choking from the acrid gas attack. An act of desperation led me to take my shirt off and wrap it around my head, just eye slits visible, looking like an incipient suicide bomber posing before my first (and hopefully only) mission.
I got to work, put my shirt on, and was immediately met by screams when I walked in the newsroom door.
No one talked to me, no one came near my studio the entire morning. Guys leaped up from their stalls and bolted out of the bathroom mid-sqeeze when I entered on one of my pee breaks. On air it sounded like I was announcing the death of my spouse with every sentence. *choke* *gasp* *sob*
And when I got out of work at 9am, I found my car alone in the lot. People were parking on the HoweMedica grounds down the street a quarter mile away, rather than risk having any of the practically visible fumes embed themselves into their vehicle.
I stopped at a Wash-n-Go joint on my way home and went through the convery belt swirly rag thing. But the guys at the end refused to hand dry my car. It looked good, but still smelled like rolling week old sushi.
So now here I am, an hour past my bedtime with my eyes stinging and my nose bleeding. The dog is cowering under our porch, and NewWifey(tm) has asked a neighbor for lodging for the night. The Mighty WRX is parked down the street in the woods, its paint gradually peeling on passenger side. Or so I imagine. It must be, there's just no way something that toxic can avoid leave a mark.
I think tomorrow I'm gonna stop by the Price Club and buy a 55 gallon drum of tomato juice and hook it up to my power washer. And maybe get some for the car, too.
Ok, I've gotta try to get some sleep. Stay well kids, and keep yer noses clean.
I think I visit too many porn shops. I aced the warmup round, then only missed two the next ("difficult") round here.
26 out of 28. Top that, suckahs!
(NewWifey(tm) nailed 20, total (10 out of 14 each round). I rule in this marriage, buddy.)