My entire trip in Vietnam was centered around food: the first thing I would do before going to a new city was doing research on what and where to get the best food. And before taking the train and bus to Hanoi I had already booked two cooking classes to learn how to make some of the refined Vietnamese dishes the cuisine is known for.
I was eager to learn, but unfortunately I was a bit disappointed. The cooking classes, not surprisingly though, target audience are tourists who are looking for a fun activity during their travelling, not necessarily people who love cooking and do it regulary. So in the “hands-on” cooking classes I barely did any cooking myself, but luckily I learned a lot of new things, like the big spoon is called a tablespoon and the small spoon is called a teaspoon..
I started a new teaching job a couple of weeks ago. There’s a lot to say about the Chinese education system and the way students are being educated. The combination of its education system and the one child policy does not really make for an ideal situation.. surprise. The way these kids are growing up is so much different from the way I grew up. It is not uncommon for a kid in primary school to have extra English classes at night after having a normal 7.30 am to 7 pm school day. I had half the amount of classes and I didn’t even have any homework at that time.
Even though I’m neither a fan of the education system nor of many of the teaching methods, I am a big fan of the kids. They are so sweet, playful, smart and they are studying so hard. Too bad my already crappy immune system can’t handle full days of 4-10 year olds coughing and sneezing in my face. So along with the new job I also got a nonstop cold.
If I’m really going to pursue this teaching career I should probably build up my immune system a bit better and a vitamin overdose should help me with that. Preferably something with exotic flavors that makes me think I’m in a warm, sunny place, instead of freezing, smoggy Beijing.
This must have been the longest period that I haven’t posted anything here on Martetatin. The past couple of weeks have been one big emotional roller coaster ride, so much has happened since I talked about polenta pizza and bacon wrapped dates, I just didn’t have the energy to take a moment and write.
When I last posted I was still in the Netherlands, since then I have packed all of my belongings in boxes, sold most of my furniture, ended my apartment contract, moved all of my stuff to my parents attic (thanks for the help!), said goodbye to friends and family and used my one-way ticket to get on a plane to Beijing. And back in China I’ve been trying to get my life in order again.
This year will be my last year as a (fulltime) student, before I will enter the world of the grown ups. So I’d better make full use of the next couple of months and figure out what it is exactly that I want to do when I grow up. But for now I’ll just eat a piece of my home made cheesecake (more on that later) in my new favorite coffee shop/restaurant and write a new post. It’s good to be back.
When my mom, a hardcore gourmet, met my dad, he was following a modest macrobiotic diet (suffice to say, he is not anymore). In those early years my dad sometimes made polenta for my mom, and according to her it was horrible. I always thought polenta was flavorless, dull food for hippies, cause that’s the image I got from my mom. Every time she heard the word polenta, she would jump up and share the polenta trauma my dad had caused her.
In the last couple of years I saw more and more recipes with polenta, and I had to admit they kinda looked appetizing. So on one adventurous day I decided that I wanted to try it for myself, I made Yvette’s recipe and I loved every bite of it. After I finished my dinner I immediately called my mom to tell her that it might have been my dad’s lacking cooking skills (kidding, dad) or her prejudices, but when made correctly, there is nothing boring about polenta. She stayed sceptic, but I for one am a complete convert.
Bacon wrapped dates might not be anything new to you, but until two days ago they were to me. After making this incredible delicious Ottolenghi salad with dates in it, I decided to make a lot more with this sticky little fruit. So for my new recipe video I made these bacon wrapped dates – I kept them as simple as possible, but of course you can fill the dates with cream cheese, other kinds of cheese or almonds – and I just pulled a banana-date cake out of the oven.
I’ve booked my ticket back to Beijing, which means I’m going back in a little over a month. Mixed feelings (as usual) about me moving back, but I’m mostly feeling excited. This upcoming month I’ll be very busy studying for a big Chinese test, hanging out with friends and visiting family, teaching little kids Chinese (culture) as my internship, but mostly I’ll be cooking up a storm and posting it either on this blog, or on my youtube channel.
Let’s talk about this salad. Actually, there’s not a lot to tell, accept that it’s a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, and knowing this should be enough reason to try it out. Ottolenghi is a genius when it comes to comparing exciting textures, pungent flavors and gorgeous colors. I haven’t heard anyone reviewing his latest book in a negative way, and I will definitely not be the first.
A couple of years ago, on a lazy morning, my boyfriend at the time and me were spooning when I told him I was in the mood for something. The poor guy got his hopes up, until I told him I was desperately craving that succulent tender and crispy fried chicken from the night market in Taipei that we had many, many times the summer before.
Of all the amazing things I’ve eaten in my life (needless to say.. I’ve eaten a lot), that fried chicken is one of my favorites. Not only the chicken itself was perfect, but also the ambiance couldn’t get any better. On some of the steamy, tropical summer nights I would get a big piece of chicken, a super sweet drink and devour it all sitting on some stairs outside while loud R&B music and advertisements were blasting from the speakers, and afterwards I would get a massage. Life doesn’t get any better than this.
That chicken in Taipei (and later in Shanghai) is my favorite, but I’m a sucker for any kind of fried chicken. These little babies also really get me going. First they’re marinated in buttermilk for six hours, later they’re covered in a mixture of flour and all the necessary spices and finally they’re deep fried till the meat is tender and the outside is incredibly crispy.
A year ago I had my first week of classes in Beijing. Everything was new and exciting, I got to go out and eat delicious Chinese food three times a day (or more), I was making new friends every single day, we were exploring Beijing by day and night and I could still wear my tiny little summer dresses cause the weather was great.
Compared to that, this week is pretty boring and the weather sucks big time. But one thing I do have now is a kitchen. Maybe I wasn’t missing it during the first couple of weeks in Beijing, but being able to experiment with new dishes, knowing exactly what is in my food and spending blissful hours in my crappy kitchen is a luxury I will be missing big time when I go back to China in November.