31 October 2012

Beijing Chef

Our Ayi had a limited repertoire of dishes that we could/would eat.  In the beginning it was a huge problem because LiLi turned up her nose at much of the bland food.   After I came back from a work trip to Hunan reporting that I loved the Hunan spices, she started adding chili sauce and peppers and both LiLi and I were happier.  After several months there were a handful dishes that Ayi and I knew would be eaten so she pretty much stuck to those.  An Indian colleague offered to teach Ayi to cook our favorite chicken tikka masala and she declined to learn.  I tried to teach her to bake cookies when we first bought the table-top oven but it didn't stick.  So, I figured this was what we had and it was fine with me since I didn't have to shop or cook, who cares if we're eating the same things over and over.

But then my mom's group posted a cooking course for Ayis.  I thought that would be perfect so I asked Ayi.  She said she would be interested but we learned that it was very far away and would cost a fortune and an hour or more travel each way.  Then we discovered that the same school--which is also a catering company called Tina's Workshop--would send a chef to teach one's Ayi in one's own home.  Bingo!  Ayi was very enthusiastic about it, surprisingly.  So...in comes Chef Bai:

The first set of dishes I wanted Ayi to learn were seafood dishes.  Since I don't eat meat and since LiLi loves fish, this seemed useful.  Ayi doesn't know how to shop or buy fish, though, so Chef Bai wound up taking her to various markets.  Tina had had to order banana leaves for Vietnamese dish fish steamed in banana leaf.  She got them off Taobao which has everything.  They were beautiful and dried on our clothing rack.

Then the two of them cooked up a storm at our apartment.  It was fantastic!  We had him come a 2nd time too so she learned a total of 8 new dishes including chicken tikka masala and carrot cake.  So now we have an ayi who can cook awesome dishes, and shop for spices and fish.  I love Beijing.

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