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Posts Tagged 'chinese'

Put The Shark Fin Down…

Would you like a shark fin or two?Today is the day all the animal welfare people have been waiting for and the Chinese traditionalists have loathed. As of today it is officially illegal to engage in the trade of shark fins within California.

Specifically this will hit Los Angeles and San Francisco the hardest so I’ll focus on San Francisco because I suppose we hear about it more here.

Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy by the Chinese and served to celebrate births, weddings, nowadays pretty much any celebration comes with shark fin soup, or at least it did until AB 376 was passed. This caused quite a brou-ha-ha within the Chinese community with cries of racism being throw around like the shark fins themselves. While being seen as an attack specifically against the Chinese which is actually more collateral damage since the Chinese are the only ones who eat it, it was more about saving the wildlife of our oceans, mainly the top of the food chain predators of the ocean — sharks.

AB 376 was passed because there was a huge amount of sharks, including endangered species of sharks being harvested to make the delicacy with no taste. In some cases there has been a 90% reduction in the population of sharks who’s fins and only fins are used for the soup. No other dish uses shark fins and the less economically feasible rest of the shark is worthless in comparison and is thrown back in the ocean allowing the finless shark to die.

If you’ve read my articles on the subject before you’ll noticed that I was called a racist by Senator Leland Yee’s twitter account along with several other lovers of shark fin soup who tweeted to me questions such as, what about sharkskin suits? They use shark [No they don’t. Sharkskin is a smooth worsted fabric with a soft texture and a two-toned woven appearance. No sharks are harmed in the making of a sharkskin suit]. Shark meat that was said to be sold at Costco and other food outlets was shown not be sold any longer and it’s next to impossible to find shark meat for sale anymore.

Because of the ban going into affect today there has been a few more articles on the subject noting that the stores and restaurants who still have stock on hand were trying to unload it before today with everything from a Father’s Day 20% discount to $999/lb to discounted shark fin soup with a whole chicken for $138.

In one article I did find information on why this delicacy with no taste because popular. It dates back to ancient China when killing a shark took some major cojones or however one says cojones in Mandarin or Cantonese. To show off your masculine prowess by killing a shark meant you had to get your hands dirty and risk your life. So after risking your life you have to show off to guests by making them eat it. Makes me think of something along the lines of, I had to work hard for this food so you’re going to eat it. Kind of like something your parents would say to you when you were a kid, but in this case you were celebrating the prowess of the shark killer by consuming the flesh of the animal that would have consumed the flesh of your host. Now I’m thinking of some of the hunters I know and that works out pretty similar.

There’s a difference here you have to take into account. It doesn’t take any physical prowess to ask, how much is that shark fin in the window? The whole ceremony behind eating shark fin soup has been lost today and in some ways that’s a shame. I’d like to see how much a person really wants a cornerstone of their culture if someone hands them a knife and points to the ocean and says, help yourself.

I have to admit that I am no vegetarian and a far cry from it, but when I was a Boy Scout and handed a live rabbit and tossed into the woods over night the rabbit got to run free and I was a vegetarian for the night. It might have been different had I been stranded for more than a couple of weeks, but I could go a night without meat. Most of us that were raised in cities don’t have the hunter instinct anymore so the idea of you’ve got to kill it before you grill it is lost on us. I can understand the original reasons why it became a delicacy and that also helps explain why someone would want to eat something that’s tasteless. It’s not about what it tasted like, but how you got it and that part has been lost in today’s Westernized culture.

I enjoy cultural traditions and do think that in San Francisco the retaining of cultural traditions should remain. You also have to keep in mind though that there are some cultural traditions that need to change. Slavery was an American cultural tradition at one time. There are many cultures that cannibalism was a cultural tradition as well, but they had to be let go. I’m sure the Chinese have more cultural traditions to focus on than one that has been destroying the natural eco-system of our planet to support a cultural tradition that is outdated and anachronistic.

On the other hand, here’s a knife, there’s ocean. Have at it.

Katy Tang In The Polarized Sunset

Katy TangDistrict Four has a new Supervisor — Katy Tang and it is my belief that she has a hard road ahead of her. As I’ve been reading the neighborhood newspapers recently I’ve noticed something about the Sunset District that while I’ve known it, I’ve never really thought much about it. It seems like this is something that needs to be talked about.

The Sunset has a very hard delineation between the Chinese populace and the non-Chinese populace [what other people call white, but in reality is just  more homogenized American in that people don’t notice skin color and everyone speaks English.] The cut off lines are 19th Avenue and Sunset Blvd. In between these two streets you will find a large section of the Sunset District that is predominantly Chinese [I would be politically correct and say Asian, but when even the Japanese restaurants are run by Chinese you have to face facts.]

Above and below this are the other people. Yes, there are Chinese that live above and below the section, but they speak Cantonese and Mandarin much less so than in the Central Sunset. There has been a lot in the papers about her being a safe choice to be in charge of the predominantly Chinese neighborhood, but that isn’t really true of the Sunset. The Sunset over all is a place where it is going to be difficult to please everyone. The Central Sunset is very densely packed and Chinese, but there is a large number of non-Chinese who live in the Inner and Outer Sunset. This is something that can’t be ignored.

You’ll notice this the most if you go down to the beach areas around Noriega and Judah. To use the often used misnomer it’s a lot more white [meaning Americanized]. There is a group of people who want to beautify the end of Judah Street to make it an even cooler place to hang out. The people running this group according to the newspaper are two caucasians and two hispanics. You don’t see a single Chinese name included which seemed odd to me. This particular part of the Sunset is beginning to look a lot like Haight Street in that everyone has tattoos and piercings and loves wearing black. When John Avalos was running for Mayor he had a get together at the foot of Noriega and the group of people who showed up were locals of many different colors, but the Chinese contingent was rather slim.

It seems strange that there is such a hard split in the Sunset District and that is something that I believe Katy Tang will have to deal with as Supervisor of District Four. I do think her first move [which is safe, but also necessary] is trying to stop the switchbacks of the N Judah and L Taraval streetcars. I’ve been kind of lucky in that I rarely have to ride them since the 48 Quintara stops near my house, but it seems like whenever I have had to hop on a streetcar out in the Sunset I always have gotten thrown off before I get to my scheduled destination. I know nothing about Katy Tang and I think that will work for her out here as there are no preconceived ideas about who she is or what she should be. I wish her the best of luck and hopefully I’ll see her on the street one day. Oh and last thing Katy, if you get a twitter account be sure to use it to get things done. Carmen Chu would always answer within a couple of days.

Have A Burger For Christmas

IN-n-Out BurgerFor me I grew up with the tradition of ham on Christmas Eve and Turkey Christmas Day. I ate it, but luckily I discovered my parents were putting the presents under the tree at an early age so we switched to turkey on Christmas Eve and leftovers Christmas Day. I was never very fond of turkey so after my Dad and Grandmother died I switched us over to prime rib. I mean it’s prime rib and 2-3 bones worth would feed us for a few days.

This year was different. We had decided after last Christmas that we’d do things quasi-Jewish style. Prime rib on Christmas Eve and Chinese food on Christmas Day. This came from the fact that Jews only had Chinese restaurants to go out to on Christmas Day for dinner instead of other restaurants. Why they just didn’t stay home and cook something was beyond me.

We had a couple of friends come over Christmas Eve during the day and when they left my wife informed me that she hadn’t taken out any food for dinner. So what were we going to do? Chinese food? The Pizza Place? El Burrito Express was probably closed to give the girls a day off so they could spend all day sitting at home cooking and not getting paid. My wife came up with In-n-Out Burger. At first I was a bit horrified. Burgers on Christmas Eve?!?!? There was something in that made that feel wrong, but we went.

I have to say for under $9 two burger, fries [make sure you ask for them well-done] and a coke wasn’t a bad idea. Now for me being on a low salt diet at first I thought it would kill be, but then I thought about how much salt I had that day and figured I could get below the 2000mg [1500mg was my total for the day]. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought of this as there were several people there. Not as many as usual, but still other people thought of it. The fact that it was the first hamburger I had in over a month made it taste even better. It actually was worth it, but I’m not sure if I’ll do it again.

Christmas Day we had a NY Strip Roast that I had never done before, but considering it’s a bunch of New York steaks all together in a roast made the idea even better. ours was 5.26 lbs which means we’ll be eating beef for the rest of the week. We would have gotten prime rib, but the cost was too much. This was boneless so it made it even easier to cut. I made the gravy and pulled out our gravy boat and made sure it was boiling hot because my wife like all her food to leave blisters in her mouth.

Christmas Day made me happy at least except half way through I forgot that I usually make some Yorkshire pudding to go with the roast. It didn’t really matter to me and I can whip some up for tomorrow. We both were satisfied by this as she got her burger and I got my roast. To top it all off we had all the dishes done afterwards so we didn’t have any clean up in the morning like we usually do.

It was a good Christmas for us even if it included burgers.

Low Sodium Diet and What I Now Can’t Eat

Well, I’ve been put on a low sodium diet of 2000mg/day. That’s not too bad since the average person should have 2300mg/day, but I started looking at the amount of sodium in foods and discovered that I’ll have to be crossing Chinese food off my list and by that I mean American Chinese food. I’ve never been to China, but from what I’ve read they’re more into the spices than dumping tons of soy sauce on the food.

I was amazed and horrified when I found this website. I love Chinese food and grew up on it at least once a week usually having the left overs if there were any for lunch the next day. My wife and I love General Tso’s Chicken and we found a place that said it had the best in the city so we went and had an odd experience after eating it and going home. Little did we know that we have consumed 11g of saturated fat, but 3200mg of sodium. We don’t normally eat that much fat or salt and we were taking turns running in and out of the single bathroom we had in the house.

Now this is restaurant food, If you want to get worse take a trip down to Costco where everyone there has to buy a case of Top Ramen or Cup of Noodles. Those have over 1000mg per serving and aren’t as large as General Tso’s Chicken. I worked for a printer that had mostly Asian employees and most of them have at least one of the aformentioned for lunch every day. I would see my boss lady eat two cup of noodles daily and if I did that it would put me over my limit leaving me with water to drink the rest of the day.

I also have a bit of high blood pressure that was getting worse years ago and my doctor told me to get a small wrist cuff that I could check my BP on an hourly basis. A could of the guys I worked with were Asian and they wanted to try it out like everyone else. Their BP came in at 160/120. I told them they need to see a doctor, but they kept saying they felt fine. Both had strokes within three months.

Now I can’t just knock Chinese Food because there are tons of fast food and other restaurant dishes that are awful. It just turns out that Chinese food comes out on top. You can check here to see some of the horrors you’ve probably eaten. Italian and Mexican food may not have as much sodium, but it’s got lots more saturated fat which isn’t good for you either. I will once in awhile have a slice of cheese pizza, but I’m holding off on burritos for now [my other beloved food].

Just watch what you eat because you don’t want to wind up in a hospital eating hospital food.

Condiment Klepto

I realized today that I have a thing for swiping extra packets of the various sauces at fast food places.Most of the time it’s because they’re odd or interesting. I actually grabbed a handful of jalapeño relish from a place before because I had never seen it. Other times it’s because if we went out and bought even a small jar of some of the sauces we’d have to throw it out before we were able to finish it.

Salt and pepper I don’t need to swipe since we only use kosher salt and pepper is easy to get. Oh the other hand things like Chinese mustard or tartar sauce we’d never go through an entire jar of the stuff before it goes bad. I also like some of the stranger sauces because who knows? Some day you’ll ask yourself what a french fry tastes like when you dip it in duck sauce [not too bad actually].

Maybe you only need a little packet of thousand island dressing for you hamburger so you can feel like you’ve just gone to McDonalds and had a Big Mac. I like to think of myself as being frugal and saving a bit of money. Mustard and ketchup we never use very often so it’s nice to be able to pull a hermetically sealed packet from the fridge only when you need it. We have a couple of friends who whenever they come over we have a tradition of ordering some Hawaiian food. I’ve finally gotten my wife to understand that if we just use the plastic utensils they give us and recycle them afterwards we won’t have so many pieces of silverware to wash [that’s the rational way of saying I’m lazy].

The day I start filling my pockets with packets of mayonnaise is the day I’ll need to be locked up though.

Enter The Dragon!

Gung Hay Fat Choi!

I wish all of my readers a very healthy, happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! I unfortunately will not be giving out any red envelopes other than the picture in today’s post. I wish all of us in San Francisco a prosperous new year and that the economy turns itself around and that the job market begins to work in our favor in the year of the Dragon.

Times have been tough for many of us and the year of the Dragon which we are now entering is the most auspicious year of the the 12 year Chinese astrological cycle. This will be a year of increased spending as it is considered to be good to have a child born during the year of the dragon.

If you have anything that you sell that would be useful to parents then this is the year to get started. While the parade itself won’t be until February 11th, today is officially declared a holiday in San Francisco  since my daughter has the day off from school.

My wife and I can never remember getting Chinese New Year off from school as a holiday and I haven’t heard a single firecracker go off in months. I have seen an uptick in the local neighborhood activity in the strongly Chinese-centric areas of the Sunset with Noriega between 33rd and 30th avenues being a place that has been more crowded than Chinatown over the past few days.

The traditional Chinese New Year Parade on the other hand has been scheduled for February 11th in San Francisco, so perhaps things will get busier around then. My the year of the dragon be prosperous for all of us!

Is Rose Pak Racist?

Rose has been getting a lot of attention lately in her support for our Mayor Ed Lee. She may need to to think before she speaks though. She was quoted as saying, I want to help MY community. To me that is wrong. It’s about THE community not a person’s racial community. If I were to say oh, I don’t know, I want to support the white people then someone would invoke Godwin’s Law and link me with Hitler and the KKK.

Rose Pak, the Chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce is fighting to help her people in Chinatown. I respect that. Chinatown needs help. It’s broken down in many places and needs a big upgrade, but at the same time to focus on a very small group of people who have very little political clout [not Klout] her efforts sound a bit like Don Quixote. If you want to get the Chinese vote in San Francisco, you have to get out of Chinatown where there are very few registered voters. If you want the Chinese vote you need to go places like the Richmond or the Sunset District. THAT is where the Chinese voters are.

This is actually beside the point. Rose Pak’s work to me is dividing San Francisco. There is no political person of another race in San Francisco who is trying to give political power to their race other than Rose Pak. OK, she’s friends with Willie Brown, but that’s from a political perspective. I have yet to hear about Rose and Willie having a meet up that didn’t involve tea and Chinese food. Rose has been referred to by many as the Iron Queen of Chinese Politics. That’s fine if you’re in China, but she’s not. She’s in San Francisco which is a part of America and in my mind we should all be American’s first and what other culture you’ve come from second.

I learned this when talking to a friend from Ireland. I told him I was Italian and Austrian and he said, I thought you were American? Well I am, but my family came from Italy and Austria, granted that was a couple of hundred years ago and I can barely speak German and my Italian is atrocious. I do like spaghetti and spaetzle, but I also like to eat a burrito or Indian food and I don’t focus on the color of a person’s skin unless that’s their only motivation for getting up in the morning.

Rose would do best to help THE community of San Francisco than to just focus on the Chinese. Chinese already make up 33% of San Francisco’s population. I think you’ve done a good job, now it’s time to move on work on helping the other 67%.

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