Saturday, January 8, 2011

No, Thanks. I Just Ate.

For my cousin's 18th birthday, her family hosted a Chinese dim sum lunch at their home. We love my cousin and wouldn't even think to skip her party, but neither of us is a fan of dim sum.  And ever since we switched to a Paleo diet, we've assiduously avoided it. It hasn't been easy, especially given my extended family's obsession with the stuff. Need proof? My mom's side of the family is from Lake Providence, Louisiana (yes, there are Asians in northeast Louisiana, thankyouverymuch), and they've made treks to Houston for dim sum.

But my dad's the biggest dim sum freak of them all. He rarely eats lunch at restaurants, but when he does, it's always -- always -- at a dim sum joint. He'll drive for a half-hour to Chinatown a few times a week to fill up on weirdly smooth-textured meat combinations stuffed into dumpling skins, rice noodles and puff pastry shells.

At a typical dim sum restaurant, these dishes arrive in little push-carts. Tell the server what you want, and s/he'll pluck a few bamboo steamers or lid-covered plates from the cart and set them on the Lazy Susan on your table. But on some dishes, the server'll add an extra little touch: He or she will take an oil can -- you heard me: an OIL CAN -- and pour an extra few glugs of soybean or canola oil on top of your food. Why? "It makes the food look better," my dad says. "It makes it shiny. But don't worry. Just drink some tea -- it'll dissolve the oil."

(Where was my dad when the Gulf of Mexico desperately needed his oil-dissolving know-how?)

Continue reading the rest of this post over at The Five Tribe...