April 2024
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Sunday In Germany: Oriental Disease ?

by Ken Yeager (ACS)

Sigh…..I think I must have contracted some sort of oriental disease while living in the Far East. As a kid, I lived in Saigon and Dalat, and then later in life Uncle Sam sent me on a one year (actually about two weeks short of a year) vacation to Vietnam in a non-beach community named Long Binh. That was followed a few years later by eighteen months in another city named Phnom Penh and lastly, two years in Guangzhou, China back in the late 1980’s. Not sure where I contracted this strange disease but I have had it for years. It is not fatal or even terrible to live with but it exists in my body….I am addicted to RICE. I love rice especially sticky white rice. I could eat just rice for a meal. I love it.

I have a former colleague who is originally from the Philippines and he too suffers from this disease. A friend told me about being on a business trip in Africa with this fellow who began suffering from rice withdrawal pains after about three days without it. I’m fortunate in that I can last longer than that, but I can understand his pain.

Luckily, Hamburg, and Germany in general has a good number of Chinese restaurants, some Vietnamese, don’t recall any Cambodian and, of course, Indian and all serving rice…lovely white or saffron yellow rice. Hamburg has one wonderful Dim Sum restaurant near the main train station and we go there periodically and it is one of the few times I venture into a Chinese restaurant without pictures of heaps of rice in my head. I love Dim Sum. But for any normal Chinese or Vietnamese meal, rice is a must.

However, today was lunch in a “Vietnamese” restaurant where we were served Nems (Chai os – I know, not spelled correctly, help me out here), a sort of glass-noodle soup and what is called here, summer spring rolls, which is a Nem but not fried, consisting of finely chopped veggies and some boiled shrimps wrapped in soft rice paper. The meal was enjoyable, but I’ve had better in Frankfurt where there was a great Vietnamese restaurant. You have probably noted that the meal did not have any rice. True, but I was eying the neighbors bowl of rice without being too obvious and no, I didn’t ask for some. Also the Nuoc Mam today was, I think, watered down…not salty or fishy enough for my taste and memory. Probably won’t go back.

We eat rice without oriental food as well…. my wife makes a wonderful chicken fricassee and we eat rice with that…not sure if it is fricassee with rice or rice with fricassee, but either way, it is something I really enjoy. Germans are really into potatoes, but our time in China helped convert my wife to other carbohydrates like fresh pasta…. now that is nice.

So by now you are probably asking, why are you telling us all of this and the answer is I have no worldly idea, I just decided to write about something and rice is a wonderful subject as are all forms of Chinese and Vietnamese food except for some of the really weird stuff they will sometimes eat. Never ate snake or dog or some other oddities…I’m sure they are tasty to sum, but the thought doesn’t agree with me. If you are ever in Guangzhou, take a trip to Ching Ping market…. they say a Chinese will eat anything that flies but an airplane or anything on four legs but a table and the Ching Ping market pretty much proves that true. But not me.

Thanks it for today….Tschüss.

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5 comments to Sunday In Germany: Oriental Disease ?

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Damn, I really need to proof my writing better. You would think after years of writing telegrams, I should do better and yes, I should. Sorry for the errors…I spotted three, but too late to fix.

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Fron a fellow rice-eater. You might suppose that I would be only a meat and potatoes eater since my mother was from Manhattan and did all the cooking while we were growing up. But Dad was born in Texas and raised here, and in Louisiana, both very productive rice growing states. Mom enjoyed cooking foods from all over, thus rice was always a staple in our home.
    I can eat it for a snack with butter or soy sauce, or with Chinese food, meatloaf, fried chicken or chicken fried steak. Anything with gravy seems to go well with rice as a side dish in my book. The list of main dishes that go well with rice could go on and on, but I, too, get hankerings for rice on a regular basis, Ken. I cannot say my love of rice came from my days in Saigon, as I was already a rice-fan by that time.
    I can say that nuoc mam has never been drizzled on my rice…definitely NOT a fan of that sauce.
    Now to be rice-specific, I am not very fond of the minute rice types (too mushy)and prefer the regular cooking long grain variety. It certainly does take a bit longer to cook, but the results(fluffiness) are much more desirable when having a rice craving.
    Cute story: A few years ago my friend had his in-laws from a small farming community in Korea make their first visit Texas. They were served rice with their first Texas dinner, and the Koreans cracked up laughing at the “funny rice” they had been served, as it “fell apart” at every attempt to pick it up. They went right out and purchased a rice-cooker, so they could use their chopsticks and eat sticky rice in clumps.
    I love cultural differences!

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    P.S. The sister of the friend I wrote about in the previous note,recently adopted a little girl from China, and one of the cities she visited during the adoption process was Guangzhou. She wrote a wonderful blog about the adoption process, the cities they were seeing and included many pictures of China including the Guangzhou market and food stalls. You are so right, they sell EVERYTHING there. The photos were quite a visual experience, and I can only imagine the aromas wafting from the spice stalls to the meat and fish markets. She and her husband have many cultural pictures of her native land to share with their daughter in future years.

  • Gene (Joe) Weinbeck

    Ahhh. Rice. I’m not sure if it was my years in Saigon or later in Bangkok, but I also prefer rice over any other carb. My preference is for a long grain basmati brown rice, mixed about 10% with a soft winter wheat (for chewiness) and 10% with a “wild” black rice for appearance and flavor. I love the aroma of basmati rice.

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