Wednesday, January 19, 2022


One of the distinct advantages of a childhood in Holland, where we moved when I was two, is that I knew all the ingredients in my lunch today: 蝦醬三絲炒米。It contained 蝦醬 ('haa jeung'; trasi basah), 豆芽 ('tau ngaa'; taugeh), 米粉 ('mai fan'; mi beras), plus sliced meat, onion, and scallion. Stirfried together. Absolutely stupendous with sambal.

Shrimp sauce three shreds stirfried rice noodles.
Trasi basah, taugeh, and mi beras are Dutch.

[dot dot dot]

Well, okay, not originally Dutch. Chinese, Chinese Indonesian, Indonesian, Dutch Indo, same supermarket aisle as Italian and Spanish. And sambal is the Dutch answer to tomato ketchup. Chili paste. It belongs in every pantry, and on every dinner table.

Remarkably, 蝦醬三絲炒米 ('haa jeung saam si chaau mai') was from the list of Chinese specials on the white board, without any translation into English. Probably because they assumed that Caucasian Americans who would eat it could also read it. Same with the dishes that contain salt fish (鹹魚 'haam yü'). One might suspect, based on this, that they have an awful lot of American Dutchmen eating there (sambal on every table definitely would suggest that also), but I may be the only one. I am a solitary outlier.

I like that place. It's home

By the way: shrimp paste and sambal stirfried together with chopped scallions in plenty of oil, then flamed with a generous splash of sherry (and cooked until reduced and the alcohol has dissipated) makes a superior alternative to ketchup on grilled burgers. Try it sometime.

It was a good afternoon. Some shopping, stopped by the pharmacy, had lunch and a hot cup of milk tea, and smoked a pipe while wandering about. At the top of the hill fog was visible, which also shrouded the upper floors of Financial District office buildings. A thick veil covered the bay all the way past Alcatraz.
It wasn't particularly cold. But the moisture in the air was tangible.

Did end up bringing home left-overs. I don't eat so much anymore. They'll make a splendid late night snack, with some extra chilies and a fried egg. The turkey vulture will want his share, of course. He just loves food.

I already gave him some ice cream. Apparently it was not enough.
He's still peckish.

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