A New Yuan Shipwreck

A shipwreck dating from the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 ACE), has recently been analyzed by a team of archaeologists from the Shandong Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in China. The ship was found at a construction site in Heze City in 2010, and has been under study since that time. The ship itself was of wooden construction and measured over 21 meters long (over … Read more

Eggs with Shrimp and Pidan

One of the agreeable and delicious ways to enjoy pidan is with eggs. Some recipes use pidan along with salted eggs or salted egg yolks with or without fresh chicken or duck eggs to make custards or other egg dishes. This recipe, however, couples pidan with regular chicken or duck eggs and a bit of shrimp and spring onions for a tasty and mild dish. … Read more

Cold Tofu with Pidan

One of my favorite ways to enjoy 1000-year eggs is as part of a cold-tofu salad. This presentation of pidan is enjoyed all over China this way as well as in Taiwan, Japan and Korea. It is served as an appetizer or as part of a meal with many dishes eaten at the same time. For western cooks, it is simple to make, exotic, nutritious … Read more

Homemade 1000-Year Eggs Unveiled

We harvested the 1000-year eggs and are finally getting around to preparing and eating some of the crop. The color is right, and a few of them have the pine-patterning that their Chinese name suggests on their dark, amber-colored flesh. They taste good, but are MUCH milder than some of the Pidan I’ve had in China. They are also missing the strong ammonia-like scent that … Read more

Making 1000 Year Eggs

So, as promised, I spent several hours yesterday making 1000 Year Eggs. That is, I coated a dozen and a half duck eggs with caustic mud, rolled and pressed them in rice chaff, and set them aside to dry. Later I placed them in a soil-lined ceramic crock and will let them sit for three to three-and-a-half months, before checking to see if I did … Read more

Food and Wine Frescoes from the Wei and Jin Tombs

In an inhospitable area between the Gobi and the Taklimakan Deserts northeast of Jaiyuguan, China a time capsule was buried almost 2000 years ago. Underneath the treeless, grey sand that blankets the region today are a series of over 1000 tombs from the Wei-and Jin period (265-420 ACE). The walls of the tombs are decorated with frescoes that depict details from everyday life in a … Read more

Yak Snack Attack

I love yaks. I have many times admired their hulking, hairy majesty on the plains and hills of Western China, Tibet, and Nepal. Yaks are survivors – free-range animals manage to survive on some of the poorest pasture the world has to offer. Yaks are beautiful – from their natural flowing-haired glory of the wild to their domesticated cousins adorned by their humans with colorful … Read more

What Am I Making? 1: 1000 Year Eggs

The correct answer is indeed 1000 Year eggs! (Contest closed: January 26, 2013) The ingredients listed from left to right are: Duck eggs, rice chaff (for coating the eggs), black tea, lime and ashes (a combination of wood ash and charcoal ash.) For those of you not in the know, 1000 Year Eggs, or Century eggs are a Chinese delicacy, eaten all over the country, … Read more

The Uyghur Musical Instrument Workshop

In a world of mass production and consumption, it is wonderful from time to time to appreciate the beauty and increasing rarity of hand-crafted goods. One of the ways that I was recently able to do so was during a visit to a Uyghur musical instrument workshop in Kashgar. There I found a variety of instruments crafted from mulberry or apricot wood that, in addition … Read more

The Color of Pomegranates

He grabbed a pomegranate from the table next to him and flashed a shy smile my way as I approached. I nodded and a quick flash of steel followed by a skilled twist and the fruit was open. He placed half on the machine, spun the wheel and a few seconds later blood-red juice flowed from its silver jaws into my glass. The scent was … Read more

On Earth there is Donkey Meat

天上龙肉,地上驴肉 In Heaven there is Dragon Meat, and On Earth there is Donkey Meat That is the saying in Northwest China, in Gansu province and the bordering areas of Xinjiang, Qinghai, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. Donkey is revered as the earthly equivalent to dragon meat, and it is widely sought after and enjoyed by many. Donkey meat is also available in Beijing, Shanghai and most … Read more

Silk Road “Muslim-Grilled” Steak

This is a dish that is served all over China. In the east and southeast it is called “Muslim Grilled” and in the west and northwest it is just called “steak” or “beef”. Tender meat rubbed with onion and garlic or given a light coat of the ground vegetables mingles with crushed cumin and black cumin along with lots of black pepper, some Szechuan pepper … Read more

Midday at the Oasis

Imagine yourself in a lush trellised garden of grape vines and mulberry trees. A brook babbles nearby and a light breeze filters through your leafy bower. Birds flit amongst the vines and provide music for your sojourn. You recline on a woven silk carpet of red and white that covers long wooden benches painted bright turquoise blue. Perhaps you sample the abundant local fruits and … Read more

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – The Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert. Ever since I was a little girl, those were words of wonder for me. Back then, it was a vast, far-away place that had reluctantly yielded some of its ancient treasures – dinosaur eggs and bones – into the hands of modern scientists. Back then, my mother would bury bones from our dinner and we would go on expeditions – finding fierce … Read more

The Tea Way

We drink tea to relax, to socialize, to mark important events in our lives, to apologize, for an energy booster, for our health, and to honor a valued guest. The Doctor even requires it to repair his malfunctioning TARDIS. Tea is so ubiquitous a drink in our world that to NOT offer a cup in some places is considered a social faux pas. It is … Read more