September 10, 2018

Food for Thought

Deep-fried steamed bread (mantou) tastes like doughnuts. In fact, I like it better because the outside remains crispy. Yeast-leavened (bread-based) doughnuts are generally quite airy (like those of Doughnut Plant) and some people find them unsatisfying for that reason. Chemical-leavened (cake-based) doughnuts (like those of Dunkin’ Donuts) are generally inferior in flavor. Deep-fried mantou comes in-between the two. Mantou is yeast-leavened. When you deep fry it, it gets nice and crispy outside while the inside remains soft and chewy. Deep-fried mantous are not classified as doughnuts, but I think they should be. I could see them becoming popular in the US as “Chinese doughnuts” and being sold alongside conventional doughnuts.

How we categorize a particular dish has a huge impact, not only on how popular it becomes, but also on how we experience it. I think our expectation determines half of what we experience whether it’s movie, travel, people, or food. This is particularly true with modern art. The name of the artist and the title of the artwork, I would say, determine far more than half of what we experience. In fashion too, brand names change the way we look at the designs.

My experience with Ivan Ramen was jarring because I realized, as soon as I started eating it, it wasn’t ramen. That isn’t to say his noodles are inferior to ramen; they are a different kind of noodle dish. I walked in expecting to eat ramen, so I had a hard time suppressing my disappointment and shifting gears. If I had walked in expecting to eat a new, innovative form of noodle dish, I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more.

We consider these factors superficial and believe we should not be influenced by them but, unfortunately, all our experiences are mediated by language. I accept this as an inescapable part of being human

#donuts #doughnuts #mantou #chinesefood #nyceats #nycfood #nycfoodie #chinatownnyc #chinesebread #steamedbuns