I apologize for my irregular blogging lately. It's a combination of regular everyday busyness and a bit of a light existential crisis. I'm not sure exactly what my blog is supposed to be doing! I veer between the politics and the aesthetics of food- sometimes I want to get on my soapbox and go on and on about various idiocies and injustices in the world, and sometimes I just want to admire delicious, healthy food. So every time I start to think up a post, I undermine myself by fearing it will be too repetitive, irrelevant, preachy, or boring.
BUT. I don't want to stop blogging, so I hope you'll all bear with me as I work out the kinks. Whatever the purpose of my blog, one thing I most certainly don't want to give up is getting to be in touch with so many fascinating and talented fellow bloggers all around the world! I'm sure all of you who blog also go through extremely productive periods as well as periods when you scratch your heads and thing, "what am I doing? and why?"
This post is way too long in the making though, so I'll get right on to it. My mom's birthday was September 30th, so Daiku and I headed down to the Northern Virginia/Metro D.C. region that weekend. Aside from the fun of getting to see family, the weekend was also filled with wonderful food.
First up: Burmese food. I had read about Myanmar Restaurant on The Veg Blog and could not wait to try this cuisine for the first time. My mom is always game for trying new foods, so she, Daiku, and I headed here for lunch. And it was spectacular! I have to admit, being ignorant about Burmese food, I expected it to have deep similarities with Thai or Vietnamese food, but it definitely had unique flavors and textures all its own.
Here's a green tea leaf salad. Cabbage, tomatoes, sesame seeds, peanuts, and crispy garlic in a tangy green tea dressing. The flavor is very hard to describe- it hits you first as almost like pesto, but then a deep, woodsy flavor lingers. The flavors played nicely off of one another, and each bite delivered something crisp, something crunchy, something chewy, and something nutty all at the same time.
I decided to go for a jackfruit curry. I'd never tried jackfruit before, and I thought it was good! I'm glad I didn't go for something familiar as I so often do. The jack fruit reminded me of artichokes in flavor. The curry was unusual if you're used to any other type (Indian, Thai, etc.)- it was a tomato-based broth, with a nice acidic edge.
Jackfruit is made of all kinds of awesome, as you can see by this close-up photo.
Here is a plate of rice and curry, topped with some intensely hot chili flakes. The thing about Burmese cuisine that stood out the most for me was the sour flavor. This comes from something called "sour leaf" or "sour vegetable," which is unique to Myanmar, as far as I could tell. It gave the food an unforgettable flavor, and made my mom a fan, since she dislikes foods with sweet flavors but adores anything sour. So do I, for that matter.
Here was dessert, shweji, a mildly sweet wheat cake with raisins and poppy seeds, with almost a baked cream of wheat taste. It was a very mellow ending to a delicious lunch.
Check it out- white poppy seeds! I've never seen that before!
Of course, the entire time we were eating lunch, we were aware of the strife going on that very moment in Burma itself. It's times like these when I don't have a ready answer to what exactly the relationship between food and revolution can look like. While we enjoy the delicious food of a country, half a world away, peaceful demonstrators in that very country are being killed. Where's the connection? What is our role?
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The next day, my grandmother and aunt and uncles were coming over for brunch, and everyone agreed to have me make a huge vegan brunch! (New vegans, take heart: this would not have happened a few years ago!)
I made two kinds of tofu scramble. The one you see above was my normal mix of veggies: mushrooms, red peppers, onions, and garlic, garnished with cilantro and scallions.
The second one was a vaguely "Iranian-style" version. In Iran, what most people imagine when they speak of "omelette" is a mixture of tomatoes and eggs, often with plenty of garlic and pepper. I found that tofu mimics the texture of eggs in this dish pretty well, so I kept the second scramble pretty simple- just tomatoes, garlic, chili pepper, and tofu.
We also had oven fries and vegan sausage. I thought I had made too much food, but everyone ate the stuff up. I was especially happy that the food impressed my grandma, since she is the origin of many of my food memories, and her seal of approval meant a great deal to me. She told me that she would try experimenting with tofu herself soon- squeee!
I also baked my mom's birthday cake, by doubling a cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. (Thanks to the PPK forum for the tips!) My mom wanted something citrus-y, so I picked the coconut-lime cupcakes with lime buttercream dressing. Check out my awesome (NOT) decorating job! Do I know how to dot an "i" or what?
The blowing out candles shot.
The close-up shot with coconut flakes.
The inside shot.
We finished up the weekend with a trip to Atlantic City.
Here I am on the beach, saying goodbye to summer.
Here's a sunset on the boardwalk.
The best food we found in Atlantic City? In one shop, fresh-baked pretzels sold 3 for $1, and came with an awesome mustard selection. In another, we found veggie philly cheesesteaks! (No photos of either, unfortunately)
One last funny picture:
Daiku and I experienced some hometown pride upon seeing a local upstate New York wine in a Virginia supermarket: Bully Hill. Not only is it a local and very cool company, not only do they make delicious wines with cute goats on the labels, but I recently found out that all their wines are indeed vegan. Double yes! And how funny is the wine next to it- Beauzeaux? The 12 year-old in me loves that name!
This weekend, Daiku and I are headed to Boston for the Vegetarian Food Festival. I am super excited to meet some fellow vegans and bloggers, and will be sure to report back with plenty of photos and stories. If you're going to be there and see us, come up and say hi! In the meantime, here is one of my Boston VegFest posts from last year.
Have a great weekend, everybody.
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