Is it a bird? Is it a medieval torture device?
No, it’s my family’s version of the Swiss Army Knife.
Expensive gadgetry make me skeptical. Until proven otherwise, experience inclines me to believe that cheaper, equally effective, and sufficiently durable alternatives exist on the market. But when Kathy told me that the $120 Wusthof Classic Chef’s Knife (8 inch) was a lust-worthy investment, I had to take her word for it.
You see, knives are a foreign concept to me. I don’t understand them, and my family in Bangladesh doesn’t use them. That’s a minor overstatement. We have one tiny Sheffield-steel knife, purchased 13 years ago when we lived in Edinburgh, which we use for cutting small portions of fruit and butter.
Meet the cutting, slicing, and dicing repertoire of the traditional Bengali kitchen: the members of the Boti family. We use them for everything from chopping vegetables, de-scaling and gutting fish, plucking chickens, ripping packets, preparing meat, and cracking coconuts.
To use them, you sit down on the floor, and hold the slanted platform down with a foot. Take whatever you want to cut into both hands, and slice it against the blade (the sharp edge faces you, but accidents are rare). For grating coconuts, we have the Narikel Kurani, which is the smaller guy on the left-side of this picture.
Got a can? Who needs a can opener when you can use a Dao, which is the Boti's hand-held cousin. We're rather Indiana Jones regarding this aspect of culinary affairs.
Our Botis are certainly not as elegant as the Wusthof or the Japanese Maguro bōchō, but they have loyally served generations of Bengalis. Not bad for something that looks like a clunky, modern-art attempt at a steel bird.
Credits: Photo from Wikipedia.
First day home, and couldn’t really decide what to make my brother for lunch, so opted for a little bit of everything. Somewhat breakfast-inspired (the sunny side up egg, turkey bacon), but hey, just flew in from the West Coast - lunch still feels like breakfast time!
"Fried Sauce Noodles" | 炸酱面
Quite a traditional Beijing dish, “fried sauce noodles” or zha jiang mian consists of thick noodles (props to my mom for making them from scratch!), stir-fried pork bits, scallions, garlic, and the magical fermented soy sauce paste. Typically, condiments like shredded cucumbers are also added to give the salty noodles a “cooling” sensation. If you ever go to a Peking restaurant, definitely give this dish a try! :)
Lasagna Cups, from this delightful post on Tasty Muffin Tin meals
Some things are too adorable not to be shared! After spending a semester largely consuming microwave meals or stuffing my face with dining hall food, I’ve forgotten how much I really do enjoy cooking! Even if my efficiency is awful. The many things I can’t wait to dabble in once I am finally free…
The busyness of life has necessitated my return to ‘retail food,’ but not a shabby pizza, eh? The toppings were very flavourful, though they did somewhat overwhelm the thin crust. Not sure if I would’ve paid the premium for ‘organic’ and ‘gluten-free’ (presumably I’m not allergic to gluten…) but still enjoyable.
More on our meal at Ajihei, (purportedly) the best sushi place in Princeton later. But we’ll lure you in with some appetizers first, courtesy my phone camera. The most quintessential dim sum item with a pungent twist.
When in Brussels…
As a devotee of Godiva, I always imagined Belgium would be a chocolate lover’s heaven. Alas, my sole day there didn’t give me ample opportunity to take my dream chocolate tour so I’ve yet to learn the veracity of that assumption. Instead I spent some time kicking around Brussels’ most touristy area - namely, the Grand Place and the nearby Manneken Pis. Thus, most of the chocolate I encountered came in a familiar mould…
Might as well milk that statue for all its worth, right? #touristtraps
More belated blogging on my travel eats later!
Lunch at Crêpes du Nord
Definitely was a crêpe-filled week! A couple friends and I thought we’d try the new crêpe stand at our local mall - a little pricey, and not necessarily life-changing, but wholesome ingredients make this a decent lunch option.
(Secret: this crêpe was actually my friend’s order. But mine was savoury, and buckwheat just doesn’t look as nice in photos.)
Red Velvet Cupcake
Although entrées may not always be my university dining hall’s forte (the horrors of what you may find during final exams week…), fortunately there are always good desserts laying around the corner. Let’s just say that while I’m on winter break with scrumptious Chinese food at home, one of the things I actually miss from school are these lovely little red velvet cupcakes!