Every Labor Day weekend, Joshua and Jineui gather 30 or so lucky friends for a four-day camping extravaganza by Manresa State Beach. This is not a hardcore outdoor experience — this year, there was a badminton game going near a very well stocked bar and a four-burner kitchen set up within snacking distance of our tents. For the price of an hour of downtown parking, some of us could even enjoy a hot shower. It’s definitely more about extreme eating and drinking that any thing resembling “camping,” but there aren’t too many things that bond people together better than wide, shaded hammocks or Scrabble marathons or jumping and screaming together in the ocean’s cold waves.
If one of the outer circles of hell were reserved for hoarders of kitchen tools, then yours truly already has a place reserved for her to peel and scrape, slice and dice for all of eternity. Fortunately, in my current incarnation, I can write about my habit so that you, dear reader, can choose more wisely.
With two new entries on my “What’s this?” page, I share some simple yet useful utensils for cooks who actually cook.
I’ve also added my latest favorites: a book on traditional Japanese packaging, paper-mache bowls, and a staple from my pantry. All are short and sweet.
With SFIAAF 2008 in full swing, I’ve managed to munch popcorn with yeast for dinner more times than I care to admit during the past few days. And with another week of films ahead, it looks like I’m going to need to restock my supply of dental floss.
Fortunately, it’s been worth it. Over the weekend, two titles that food and film lovers should add to their list were screened to sold-out crowds.
THE KILLING OF A CHINESE COOKIE
Who among us can resist opening a fortune cookie? No matter how jaded or snobby, no matter how much you may hate that dry, tasteless joke of a dessert that sits on your bill after a meal at the Golden Imperial Jade Wok Garden, I dare you to leave behind, unopened and unread, that little strip of paper and its peek into your future.
From Tricycle Press, that little imprint of our very own Berkeley-based Ten Speed Press, comes the World Snack Series, a cheerful set of children’s board books about sweet and savory treats enjoyed around the world.
Author and illustrator Amy Wilson Sanger provides both the books’ sing-song text and the artful, colorful sculptures that grace their pages. Adults and children alike will love the parade of scrumptious snacks: cha siu bao, bhel puri, tamales, hamentaschen, little polpetini, and even temaki with uni roe. One of my favorite lines, from Yum Yum Dim Sum, sent me straight to the closest teahouse: â€œWhy, oh why, my little sui mai, why do I love you so?â€
Chef Sanjay Thumma is my current favorite time suck.
It’s refreshing to watch someone demonstrate mouth-watering dishes with uninhibited joy, a matter-of-fact globalism and minimal make-up. It helps that I love so many cuisines in India, but what immediately appealed to me is his stance as a teacher. It’s a very different experience to learn about traditional foods from someone who assumes, from the beginning, that his audience is not comprised of outsiders. Like a student whose teacher sets high expectations, viewers and home cooks rise to the challenge.