Silk Road Culinary Tour

Lately, I have been very into this area that I realized is pretty much the old Silk Road. I have always loved Tibet and old Persia and Arabia. And I have always loved the strong flavors of this Central Asia area. So I decided to map out the Silk Road, and do a food journey along it.

It was not my best food tour. The possibility exists that I really was not cooking these dishes properly, but to my surprise, I found them to be extremely bland!

Also, because I am a single person following a recipe I cobble together, I ended up with huge portions. Many leftovers ended up requiring, though grossly inaccurate, flavor mending. (For instance, the soup got a healthy portion of coconut milk and chilli to make it more enjoyable..)

But, here it is:

Xian – Central China

Xian Cumin Lamb

(The only truly flavor packed meal)

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Kashgar – Western China

Kyrgystan Apple Cake

(A weird mistake. I am not sure how my wires got crossed during research, but this recipe does not actually come from Kashgar…)

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Pamirs – Tajikistan

Lagman, Uzbek Beef Soup

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Merv – Turkmenistan

Turkmen Chicken Plov, Pilaf

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Baghdad – Iraq

Baghdad Eggs

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Damascus – Syria

Fatet Djaj, Chicken Platter

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Tyre – Lebanon

Mujadara, Lentils and Rice

(I like to try and go out at one point of my culinary tours, eat a meal someone else has cooked, probably better than me. But due to our current state of affairs, I settled for going out and buying from the store. I added some Yogurt, Mint, and Fried Onions, and it was pretty yummy.)

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I also paid a little homage to Marco Polo. (I tried so hard to read his book, but just didn’t find it an enjoyable read 😞)

A version of a Pasta I ate at a restaurant called Bella Italia.

Penne with Dark Meat Chicken and Scallion, in Plum Sauce.

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And a recipe by Julia Child called Spaghetti Marco Polo.

Spaghetti, Chopped Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Toasted Walnuts, Parsley, and Basil.

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I don’t honestly know a lot about the Silk Road. I just have found myself drawn to the cultures that it travels through. So the possibility if my inaccuracy is high. But I thought I’d share the tour anyway.

The Dark Side of Mental Health..

I work in a Behavioral Health unit. The psych unit of the hospital. We get alot of patients, from major mental crisises, to unmanageable depression. The object is to help someone out of their crisis and hope they don’t have to come back.

But there will always be the patients who come back. The ones who count on us to help them, the ones who need us.

Because of that, there are patients that we get to know. We see them when they are at their worst, and we nurture them back to stability. We come to love them, in our way.

In a way, they begin to become like old friends. And each time I discharge them, I give a kick in the pants, and tell them I better not see them round these parts again… And then I give them a hug, and tell them that seriously, we will always be here if they need… And then they are gone.

And days go by, and weeks, and months. For most people, it is, out of sight out of mind. The doors of our unit revolve too quickly to dwell. But for those who have the softest parts of my heart, I imagine I haven’t seen them because they are doing so well in the world. I don’t let my mind imagine the worst.

But sometimes it happens. We live in a small town. And when I happen upon the news article declairing one of my most special patients dead… a piece of my heart breaks away.

There are downsides to every situation, but this is the very worst part of my job. Everybody dies, it is something a hospital is very familiar with, but when one of my patients dies, it cuts me as a failing.

Why didn’t you come to us for help?

I am not a doctor. I’m not even a nurse. I am the person who gets you coffee, who sets up and cleans the shower, the person who wakes you up in the morning, the person who tells you that the sun is out and if you’re not quick, you’ll miss it! I can’t take away your problems, or your pain. All I can do is offer my hand when you’ve fallen, and try my damnedest to help you remember how to smile.

And today, I pushed myself to get up, to go out and see the sun, to smile… because I would never be able to do that for you again. I smiled, because I would never see you smile again..

What it’s like to be Asian…

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As an Asian-American who has lived nearly her whole life in America, I never really felt the negativity of racism. I was fortunate to grow up with a family who were very open about my being adopted, my culture, and being open to other cultures period. It wasn’t until 2016 that I really began to experience a lot of hostile racism. By this time I was 30 years old and knew some about history and what America was built on and it struck me as even more hurtful. America, the melting pot that used to call itself “The Land of Opportunity,” a country that people from varying other countries still look to as an opportunity for a better life. 

At the beginning of this year, Covid–19 really began to come to our public eye for its growing cases in China. It’s extreme contractability and death rate creating fear. By mid March, cases of the virus were confirmed in America, as well as many other countries. America went into full Pandemic mode, citizens were panic shopping, and many states issued a stay-at-home order. 

The virus was senselessly called the “Chinese Virus,” and the level of racism and anger against anyone who even looks Chinese grew exponentially. To the simple point of walking the other way when they might pass someone of Asian decent, to the extreme level of chasing and beating up someone of Asian decent. Regardless of their actual race, ethnicity, heritage.

As a Korean born American, I never thought I’d be so scared of being Asian as after Trump was elected president. Today, during this national pandemic, I am even more fearful to be Asian. 

Here is an article written in USA Today on the growing racial problem during this pandemic. What It’s Like to be Asian During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The most heart breaking thing I had ever heard was from an Black French woman, Surya Bonaly. An Olympic level figure skater who could never seem to get first place, no matter how much training and finessing she did. In an interview she was asked if she thought that in any way it was because she is black. She said no, it was just that, “when you’re black, you know. Everybody knows that you have to do better than anybody else who’s white.”

There have been times in my life lately when I have felt the same sentiment. In my work place, 1 of 3 non-white employees on my shift. I have felt like I have had to face a lot more negative criticism than my peers, that I have had to work twice as hard. 

And even though most of the time, I don’t even think most people even consciously think about it. That a negative view of Asian-Americans is so deeply ingrained. People still blame MSG in Chinese food for feelings of dizziness and headaches. An idea brought about in 1969, despite no scientific proof of the correlation between MSG and the symptoms of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.”

Here is an article written earlier this year about “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” MSG in Chinese Restaurants isn’t Unhealthy…

Racism has always been a part of Asian-American history. But American’s forget that it was Asian immigrants who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, which physically brought the country together. American’s forget that it is through Asian companies that we do our everyday communication with others, everyday internet work, stream televison programs… Sony, LG, Samsung, HTC… All companies from Asia. 

As an Asian-American who has lived nearly my whole life proud of my Asian heritage, I have never felt more fear and shame of this country I call home.