For Christmas, I bought Erin a pass for 10 visits to Dahn Yoga, an international chain of yoga schools founded in Korea in the 1970s that has several locations in the Denver area. One is close by, and Erin was interested in taking yoga, so I walked in. I left with the gift certificate for Erin, and a slightly sour aftertaste about the place, because of the high-pressure way I was urged to spend more money for a higher package of classes.
I warned Erin that there was a little of “cult-like” feel about Dahn Yoga, but one of our good friends has been taking classes there for years at another location with the same instructor, so we figured it would be OK. Erin finally attended her first class last week, and also signed both of us up for a free class about brain health (Erin’s an expert on the brain, and loves to learn anything about it). Continue reading
Erin and I went out to eat tonight at Thai Basil, a very popular restaurant in southeast Denver. We had eaten there a couple of weeks ago with friends and enjoyed the food, so we decided to give it a shot on our own. The food was fine once again — we had chicken coconut soup for starters, and Thai curry lime beef and sesame tofu for entrees.
But during the meal, it occurred to us that aside from one woman at a nearby table, we were the only Asians dining in the packed room. The servers were mostly Asian, but on the way in this time, I noted that the owner and much of the staff is Chinese, not Thai. These observations maybe are unimportant if the food is great, but I started wondering about the importance of authenticity in ethnic cuisine.
First of all, does it matter what ethnicity the staff, owners and even maybe the chefs are, if they can make great Thai food, or Chinese, or Japanese or Korean? Shouldn’t the end quality of the food be the measure of a restaurant’s quality? Yes. And… I’ve had various ethnic cuisines served up by people not of the ethnicity and had the food fail the taste test. Even years ago in New York City, when I was in college, I was so desperate for Mexican food that I went into a Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village, only to be served enchiladas with spaghetti sauce — no lie — poured over them. That’s why that Pace Picante tagline works so well: “…from where? NEW YORK CITY?” Continue reading
I’ve been drinking something that tastes like dirt. I’ve also been drinking something else that tastes like weeds. Both are supposed to be good for me.
It’s an Asian thing — there’s a cultural fascination in with potions and powders and pills outside of “Western” medicine and healthcare. I don’t doubt that a lot of Eastern alternatives work, and not just acupuncture.
Some of it is that foreign countries simply have different medicines. I grew up taking Japanese pills called “Ru-Ru” (more or less pronounced that way) because my mom used it for everything from headaches to colds and fevers and just plain old feeling icky. She still buys bottles of it when she goes back to Japan. The pharmacist at her hometown drugstore recognizes her everytime she returns to stock up on Ru-Ru and other Japanese drugs.
Beyond pharmaceuticals, there are a lot of other health products marketed to Asians that might make non-Asians scratch their heads. Or just laugh. For instance, there’s a popular tea called “Diet Tea” that shows up in Asian grocery stores. We’ve tried it, and it helps people “diet” by serving as a powerful laxative. You’ll lose weight, all right. But it won’t be from managing what you eat.
Along these lines, I’ve been drinking up powders that were given to me: Aojiru and Ginseng Tea. Continue reading
In the U.S., snack food manufacturers in recent years have become creative, and come up with a variety of flavor combinations beyond the old barbecue-flavor potato chips or the nacho cheese flavored Doritos. Now you can get black pepper and olive oil Triscuits, or chili-lime flavored corn chips.
But American palates probably aren’t ready for some of the flavors that are available in Japan. Continue reading
Two news items worth noting, although one is kinda old already:
First Burger King has announced that in Hawaii, they’re selling a new item, a Spam Platter — two slices of Spam nestled between white rice and scrambled eggs. BK, which is based in Miami, also serves its Croissanwich or Biscuit Sandwich with Spam for the Hawaiian market. Continue reading