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Shanghai Noir



I love it when mail drops through the slot. Old school mail, the physical kind that you have to tear open with your teeth. This is the cover (front and back) of a vegetable planner that arrived in the mail this week, courtesy of The Cleaver Quarterly. It's a weekly planner that could be used for anything though my intention was to use it in the garden. But the illustrations (by Heaven Lau) and the graphic design (by his wife, Summer Lau) are so knock-down gorgeous, I'm afraid to take this book outdoors. 52 classic Chinese vegetables, the various names they go by, plus how to select, store and cook each one. What more could a foodie want?

Well, this foodie wants those leafy greens, legumes, aromatics, aquatic plants, roots, gourds, fungi, and edible flowers to be growing in my vegetable plot right now. 'Tis the season. The sun has finally come out, the rains are slightly less than constant, and the temperature is slowly starting to climb. My idiot gardening app tells me (in Dutch) that it's time to sow lamb's ears, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and carrots. So far, I haven't broken open any of my new seed packets but I have been rooting around in the garden to tie back my Syringa meyeri Palibin (lilac), prune the roses, and clean up the winter detritus.

The scent of spring is in the air and so it's entirely appropriate that the subject of this week's blog should be our sense of smell. It's the least appreciated of the five senses yet carries such a powerful punch when it comes to memories associated with smells. I can still remember the first time I went to China in 1984, walking the streets totally lost until I smelled the aromas of home. Some of those odors were strong enough to raise the dead. You can read about those smells and the family ghosts they evoked in this week's blog post: The Smell of Memory.

Happy sniffing!

Fun in the Dark
Homeward Bound
Uncle Xi Wants You!
On Revision
Year of the Pig

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