Taro – Purple Potatoes

I came across a vegetable in the supermarket the other day that I’ve not seen since China.

I always referred to it as a taro, but it seems it has several varieties, and this one was an eddoe.

Wikipedia refers to the flavour as:

…an acrid taste that requires careful cooking…

It’s a lot like a potatoe, but when cooked it goes crumbly and purple, and tastes kind of like… ice cream. Hard to describe really. In China it’s very popular, both fried as a main course, and as a dessert.

Cutting the skin releases some slightly toxic chemicals so you have to be careful! Cooking removes the toxins and you’re left with an unusual food.

London Dim Sum – Yauatcha

Living in Guangzhou had many advantages, and one of the biggest was the cheap availability of food. As the centre of Cantonese cuisine, Guangzhou (previously called Canton) is more than well placed to provide some tasty treats. My brief experience with Northern food revealed a somewhat stodgy bread-based diet and combined with my return to London I discovered that I missed real Guangzhou Dim Sum.

Since then I’ve tried several places in an attempt to find something satisfactory. First was an anonymous restaurant in China Town, which in retrospect is probably not a good place to find Chinese food (aimed more at tourists than anything else). Next up was a hopeful Chinese/Jazz fusion, courtesy of Shanghai Blues. I left here feeling disappointed – the dumplings tasted bready, the contents were indistinct. Prices were also too high.

Continue reading “London Dim Sum – Yauatcha”

Czech food (and the effects of globalisation)

I’ve been introduced to a lot of Czech food recently, courtesy of some Czech friends, and it’s been a fun (if sometimes weird) experience. It’s also given me the opportunity of visiting real local-style places. I haven’t quite decided what the criteria for distinguishing a ‘local-style’ place is yet, but if it’s in anyway intimidating then it almost certainly counts.

The food I’ve been served reminds me a lot of the food I used to eat in England as a child: heavy, meaty, and simple. Popular foods here are dumplings (potato and bread varieties), meats and meat sauces, bread, cabbage, and cheese.

Fried food is far too popular, and a meal may consist simply of fried mushrooms, boiled potatoes, and some tartar sauce. Tasty, but not particularly healthy.

As an unconfirmed vegetarian it can be a frustrating experience, although there are some notable exceptions (the excellent Radost FX being one).

I’ve had some pretty unexpected surprises. For some reason, eating spinach with cream is very popular here. Now I love spinach on its own, but with cream? Using my basic understanding of Czech I ordered what I thought was a spinach pizza. The menu mentioned spinach (spenat) and cream (smetana), but I figured it was spinach, with some sort of sour cream in a small side dish. Alas not, it simply meant spinach and cream. It would actually have been alright if it hadn’t been for the raw egg placed gently on top. I missed that word entirely!

Continue reading “Czech food (and the effects of globalisation)”