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Food Politics- Vina Giang February 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — yumnumfoods @ 9:05 pm

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I read the book Eating Animals, during my sophomore year of college and having a two week long conversation on eating meat at that time, really changed how I see meat now. The fact that we pick and choose which animals we would like to eat rather than animals such as dogs or even elephants say a lot about how we influence others on our food choices.

Growing up in the city, I always had chickens in my backyard and along with many other types of animals. Both my mom and dad are animal lovers, but when it comes to cutting off a chickens head, there are no hesitations because it is a source of protein and is needed to feed their children. Although we did not just raise chickens eat and most of the times we did not eat our chickens, our chickens where like pets to us. I remember when I younger how I use to play with the baby chicks, steal the mother hen’s eggs and get chased by the fierce papa rooster.

When it comes to animals, I can’t watch them being abused and chopped up. But yet someone has to do it in order to provide people with the demand for meat. In my household, I can’t say I eat much meat. My mom is big on vegetables and she would make as much vegetable dishes as there where meat dishes. But once and awhile a nice big fat juicy steak comes along and it is rewarding. However, where that meat comes from is hard to say and as a child no parents wants to tell you where it comes from or how it is provided to you. I think that children should be taught at a young age on where their food comes from, a field trip to a farm would be much more educational than a field trip to the zoo. If, we are to change how food is provided to us than I think we should start teaching our children first because our children are the ones that really tell the parents what they want to eat.

 

Family Interview- Vina Giang January 31, 2013

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Fish, is what my dad loves to eat. Growing up, I had fish probably two to three times a week and most of the time it was either, caught by my dad earlier that day or on the weekend before. Even when I asked my dad “If you could have the ultimate meal what would it be?” His response “I like to eat fish.” “Well geez dad, we all know that” as I thought to myself. I have always been daddy’s little girl and I knew the way to his heart was through fish, so every Sunday or whenever my dad was free, I would go fishing with him and my little brother. I don’t want to brag, but I was really good at fishing, I caught a total of 10 fishes in 4 hours at the age of 12. I knew my dad was proud of me, even if, he didn’t want to admit it because he would always make this funny smile that was sincere enough that you can see his eyes twinkle a bit, as he squint it to the point of which you saw his wrinkles on the side of his eyes.

 

My dad is a refugee. When the Vietnam War began, my dad was sent out on a boat with his sister to come to America to send their family money, both my dad and my auntie were the oldest of thirteen children. “How did you start cooking? What made you want to start dad?” He laughed and said “When I was hungry and no one could cook for me, I was around sixteen at that time and I was in the refugee camps.” “What did you make?” I asked after. “Porridge with little crabs, I had to eat whatever I had.” At that moment I laughed along with my dad too, as I sat on the bed with him in the dark, as he watched his Chinese soap operas, I thought to myself, “how lucky am I to be alive and living in America”

 

As I then go on to ask “Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?” As blunt as my dad is, his response was “Right now, I hate cooking.” “Hey why?” I said. “All you guys are old enough and I took care of you guys already. I had to cook for you guys when you guys where young, now you guys have to take care of me.” To me, I think that it was a fair enough response and I agree as well. But I just had to say “Dad, I have cooked for you and I do take care of you.” As my dad goes on smiling “ You’re brother always cooks for us, you have only cooked once and that was you’re Italian food, when you got back.” I could not believe my dad just said that “ Wow, I have cooked for you numerous times, what about that fried chicken I made for you with all the seasonings?” As I read what I have said to my dad, I realize I really don’t cook for my parents in general and I must admit that my little brother is quite the cook. As my dad makes fun of me “What chicken? I you never made that, I remember all the foods I eat and you never made that” Although, my dad does not remember I really did make that chicken, I swear I did.

 

I think my dad is a better cook than my mom, but don’t tell her that. “How would you rate yourself as a cook?” I asked my dad. “I’m a ok cook. I like to cook my own stuff.” The reason I think that my dad cooks better than my mom is that he knows his stuff. At around the age of 25 my dad worked in a kitchen helping to make food, actually come to think of it, my dad has always worked with food. I remember fondly when I was six my dad would go to cooking lessons in Chinatown, twice every week and I would go with my mom to pick him up because every time he came out, he would have the food he learned that day for us to try. My dad is an incredible chef and when he says he makes his own food he does it in way that he gives his own touch to it. My dads Hoi Lum gai fan is his favorite as well as my favorite dish of his. This dish is the name of a place in China know for their style of how they make chicken with rice, but my dads rice is made with onions and garlic with a thick, sweet, sour and spicy sauce with cilantros that is drizzled on top of the boiled chicken that is not completely shredded but, just enough that you can still stab your fork into the chicken knowing that it won’t fall off your fork.

 

My dad’s Hoi Lum Gai Fan is so good that one time, my older sister and I came back from happy hour at Chevys with a full tummy. But my dad insisted that we come home and eat his famous dish. Prepared as though I was eating at a restaurant, my dad did not give my sister and I a break, he gave us the full portion and knowing I had a tummy full of Tex-Mex food I wanted to cry, as I saw how much food he gave me. In 30-40mins my plate was completely clean not a single grain of rice was left. Dad’s Hoi Lum Gai Fan is the best and he is the best dad. I can see why my dad loves and hates cooking because he was forced to cook and he always took care of other people. Now that I am older, I can finally understand my dad and his love/hate relationship with food. 

 

Gourmet Ghetto-Vina Giang

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The word cupcake, makes my mouth tense up. In Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto holds a cupcake bakery where their name Love at First Bite, fits the description of taking a bite into their red velvet cupcake. I must say, when it comes to buying a cupcake for more than three bucks, I am not a fan. I honestly think it absurd to even charge a dessert, in which you can make yourself for three bucks or more. However, I am willing to change my mind when it comes to Love at First Bite’s Red Velvet cupcake. Soft, buttery moistness with a cream cheese icing that is just right in it’s sweetness, it was to the point where it made me smack my lips together rudely.  But who cares because this is my moment, I can feel the love my red velvet cupcake was giving my tummy. They were happy and it made me happy by far this was m favorite stop on my field trip in the gourmet ghetto.

Potato puffs, to me, sounds just like some potato chips and yes, I must say they also did taste a bit like Pringles. On the field trip, this was the most interesting and best ball of mash potatoes I have yet tasted. Who would have thought to mash up some potatoes, roll it into a ball and give you a heart attack at the age of 21 by deep-frying the whole thing? Genius. At Gregoire’s who states that they the Bay Areas finest take out are so creative when it comes to these $4.50 crispy potato puffs because it is so simple and good that I am mad that I did not create it myself. When I first say these potato puffs, I was a bit unsure what these balls where and what was weirder was that it came with this orange sauce that made me choke when I smelled it. The orange sauce I think had vinegar in it and it almost tasted to me like Thousand Island dressing as the crispiness of the potato puff, acted as though it was croutons and I accidentally got some mash potatoes in it. I think that might be how they came up with their potato puffs.

In the Epicurious Garden, Thai red lentil with coconut soup is served to all kinds of people, who enjoy their love for soup. First of all, I would like to say I do not eat lentil, nor do I know how to cook it and being Asian, I do not think a lot of Asian people eat lentil, so when I seen the word lentil with the word Thai, I was confused. But I must not judge a food by its name before even trying it. This happens to be a hit, the taste of the lentil was barely there, but it gave the soup its consistency of its thick and creamy graininess as the flavor of the Thai soup tom yum came to me with the flavors of coconut and lemon grass followed it. Then to top it off the taste of cilantro because every Asian dish, is topped off by cilantros or green onions. Although this soup looked like puke to me, it was definitely the best puke looking soup I have eaten.

 

Chopped- Vina Giang January 27, 2013

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What can I make with Strawberries, Walnuts and Cumin? The assignment of taking three ingredients to create a masterpiece of my own doesn’t to hard right? For me, I despise food with fruits, I just do not understand the concept of putting something sweet into a main dish or even a appetizer. I believe that anything sweet should be served at the end of a meal. I like my main courses to be full of salty rich flavoring, a little sweet is fine, but not to the point where my meat tastes like a fruit pie. The fact that I am going to make a salad with a strawberry kills me a bit inside as I am going against what I dislike.

Now, with the ingredients of strawberries, walnuts and cumin I will be pretending as though I am in the show Chopped, which is what this assignment is based on. The adventure starts with the grocery store. The first thing that came to mind when I receive these three ingredients was that I am going to make a salad, but my problem is that I had no clue what the heck cumin was. I never heard of such thing as it comes out to be a spice used mostly in Indian cuisine. My best bet is to go to a Asian supermarket and since I live in the city this should be easy.

As I bought all my ingredients of Strawberries, walnuts, cumin, lettuce and most importantly the salad dressing of French dressing. I began to chop the strawberries and lettuce and once that was done I threw in some walnuts. Well, all that was simple and for the finale the dressing. As much as I would like to be creative and make my own salad dressing, I would not even know where to start, so I am sticking to what I know. I chose French dressing because it has a bit of sweet and yet a enough salty-ness to compliment my strawberries and the cumin that I will add to my dressing. As I sprinkled a bit of cumin the dressing the aroma of a weird spice followed by a sour smell that went straight to the back of my nose.

The results of my salad, I think that it was just pretty good, The flavor of the strawberry brought in a sweet but sourness to the taste, as the walnuts gave the dish a crunch and finally the dressing brought the salad alive with flavor. I personally thought that this science project would go absolutely wrong because I am not a salad person and how could a person, who does not even eat salad yet alone make a salad? But in the end I am proud of myself that my science project won at least 2nd place at the fair.

 

Japan Town Experience- Vina Giang January 20, 2013

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When I think of Japan town in San Francisco, I think of sushi and restaurants that serve solely just Japanese food. But who would have thought that there would be a South Indian fusion restaurant? Dosa is a restaurant that is located right in Japan town and is one of my favorite foods that I have tried on the field trip because just one bite of there Dosa, blasted a rush of spices into my mouth, followed by a spicy touch that could be felt from my mouth up to my nostrils. On a chilly day, Dosa is the perfect twist of a chili bowl, in which you could sit inside of the restaurant to order this special dish. As I dipped my Dosa, which looked like a crepe wrapped with potatoes in the bowl of soup with the chutney sauce of coconut and another chutney sauce of tomatoes, it automatically took me back to my mom’s Vietnamese curry. My Mom uses real curry, chicken, potatoes and served with a baguette or rice noodles. I like when my mom makes her curry not to watery and just thick enough that I can make that slurping sound when using my spoon.

Another food on the field trip that I enjoyed was the Blueberry Mochi from Benkyodo. Two brothers who make all of their mochi and it may just be like taking a bite into marshmallows that are filled with white beans and with real whole blueberries in every bite. This reminded me of how when I was little, my parents would always take me to the Tenderloin in San Francisco and within the Tenderloin is Little Saigon. In the Vietnamese deli shops, they would serve endless varieties of vietnamese desserts. I remember I would beg my parents to buy me the mochi filled with red beans. Vietnamese mochi are square shaped and is a bit bigger than Japanese mochi. The flour that is coated on the mochi is make it less sticky, but I use to put it all over my lips and pretend I was an old lady. I think that the feeling and taste of Benkyodo’s mochi, just brought me back to being a kid again and I most definitely enjoyed it.

One food on the feild trip that I found interesting was at Yakiniq Café, which is named after a bbq restaurant located on the top floor. At Yakiniq Café they serve Sweet Potato Latte, which is their most well known drink and is said to be one of the only Café’s to serve this drink in the bay area. When I drank this Latte, it was as though I was in my own home, snuggled up in my warm bed, this comfort drink tasted exactly like sweet potatoes and to make it, seemed so easy. Puree sweet potatoes, simple syrup and milk. I can taste small bits of sweet potatoes in my latte and it was something very new to me because when I think of sweet potatoes, I think of pie or the sweet potato itself, as in a form of a food to eat but not to drink. Before my experience in Japan Town I thought I knew a lot about Japanese food and about  Japan Town itself since I live in San Francisco, but I guess this goes to show that I can always learn and try something new no matter how familiar it might be.

 

A Kitchen Disaster- Vina Giang January 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — yumnumfoods @ 8:20 am

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Fish sauce in spaghetti, this says it all. If you know anything about Vietnamese cooking, it is that fish sauce is added to everything. Fish sauce is like the soy sauce to you’re fried rice or the dash of salt to you’re tomato sauce. When it comes to down to cooking Vietnamese food it is a key ingredient. This goes to my next point, Italian food is not Italian food unless it is cooked with olive oil and garlic. I spent almost four months in Italy to study and eat some of the most delicious food. As I went to cooking classes, lived the Italian lifestyle and even ate like an Italian, I came back to the states of course thinking that I am Italian now. Although this may be true for the most part, I thought I would cook my parents who are both Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants a simple, but traditional Italian meal. However, if I knew that this was going to become a disaster I would have never tried it the first place.

Let’s get started. Spaghetti is such a quick meal to prepare and all it is, is tomato sauce and spaghetti noodles. But growing up in an Asian household, spaghetti was something that has always been seen on television or it has been mentioned but it is unknown to the tongue. One day, while I was still in grade school, my mom decides that she will make spaghetti for the family because she thinks that it is an easy dish to make as to any other dish she might try in a restaurant. My mom’s spaghetti turns out to be a dish that I would grow up eating and loving. Not until I went to Italy that I realize not all spaghettis had to have meat in the sauce.

Finally, as I began to boil my water, squeeze and mush my peeled canned tomatoes, chop my garlic and onions, I heated my pan and poured the olive oil in. As I threw some onions into the olive oil to see if the oil is ready, the kitchen disaster was almost ready.  Like the sound of a window being cracked my onions and garlics where ready to be greeted by the bloody red tomato sauce. Three shakes of pepper, a teaspoon of sugar and a shake or two of garlic powder all without being measures, as well as being tasted. Like in the Lion King says “hakuna matata,” I had everything under control I mean, once again I am Italian. Lastly the Chili flakes went into the spaghetti as I probably overdosed on the chili flakes, in which my blood boiled straight to my head when I tasted the sauce. As hot as it was, I thought it was perfect, I mean my parents love spicy food. On second thought, maybe it was too spicy, so I told my brother to try my sauce and he tells me that my sauce was missing something and that the flavor was just not there.

As I turned to grab some sugar, in a second I see my brother in slow motion, pouring fish sauce into my tomato sauce! The audacity of him! Italians do not eat with fish sauce, yet alone even know what fish sauce is. It was unacceptable, as I waved my one hand around, pinching them together then putting both my palms together, as I prayed to him like a true Italian would and asked him “what the heck was he doing!” My masterpiece, my hard work is ruined and I have become a failure.  Who would eat this spaghetti now? The thought of fish sauce in spaghetti is like soy sauce in your milk shake or salt on your pie. Some things need in the world should just never meet but apparently fish sauce has met my spaghetti sauce. In the end my parents ended up eating my spaghetti and told me it was good, I would never know because I refused to eat spaghetti contaminated by fish.

Spaghetti sauce

1 can of whole peeled tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil

½ of a onion chopped

1 bag of spaghetti

1 teaspoons of grounded black pepper

1 teaspoons of garlic powder

1 teaspoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of chili flakes

½ teaspoons of fish sauce (optional)

 

Mission Experience-Vina Giang January 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — yumnumfoods @ 7:00 pm

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Living in San Francisco for 21 years now and almost going to the Mission at least once a week, going on this field trip with my class was like discovering a hidden treasure. When I think of the Mission, the first thing that comes to mind are the best tacos and burritos, but I would have never thought of delicious cupcakes, pastrami sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches in apple butter or even powerful artwork that bonds the community together.

One of my favorite foods that I ate on the field trip was the pastrami sandwich from Wise Sons Delicatessen, a Jewish Deli that makes their own bread and pastrami. Once they came out with their pastrami sandwich, which was simply soft, warm bread with layers and layers of pastrami, my eyes opened wide. As I questioned myself, “How do I eat this?” or “Is my mouth capable of even eating this.” As I took the biggest bite, pieces of pastrami began to fall to the ground, the taste was like Thanksgiving again. Was I eating roast beef on thanksgiving or was I eating pastrami? The texture just fell apart in my mouth as the soft bread complimented the mild salty-ness of the pastrami. This was definitely a heavy but satisfying lunch.

One of the most interesting foods that I ate on the field trip is at Humphrey’s, which carry a variety of eccentric flavors, one of which is Balsamic carmel. The name says it all “Balsamic carmel” The flavor of Balsamic vinegar and carmel, I would have never guessed this two flavor would ever meet in a billion years and yet they did. The color was a very light brown I say maybe a tan color. The taste was like being in an italian restaurant as they served me bread to dip in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, all mixed into an ice cream consistency. Once the flavor of balsamic vinegar passed, the taste of carmel came to my mouth salty and sweet. Each time I tasted the ice cream the same results turned up and then, by the time I tested over and over to see the results my Balsamic vinegar ice cream was all gone. I guess until the next time I happen to be in the Mission I will have to go back to Humphrey’s to test out the Balsamic carmel ice again once again.

Overall, I think that the Mission Field Trip was a most filling trip, with all the foods that I ate and all of its different flavors, it is most definitely a place I need to revisit. A variety of food, culture and people is a place that everyone should experience.