Help Me Collect Recipes From All Of China

11406985_824683207614152_8878851968500075383_n
My heart is pounding. But here goes:

In December of 2015, I will be backpacking to China to try to collect recipes from all 34 sections (provinces, autonomous regions, administrative regions). I need your help. I’m trying to raise $20,000 to support me and a local Chinese photographer for the first leg of the journey. All the recipes will be published on my blog.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.
My campaign here.

Recipe: Hot And Sour Soup From Ivy In Taiwan

DSC_0720

There’s less than 55 hours before my crowdfunding campaign ends! Help me backpack to all the regions of China to collect recipes here.

It’s about less than six months before I begin my foray into the heart and soul of Chinese food. Meanwhile, I’ve been swimming like a fiend and scuba diving my heart out before I set foot in Asia. I hear there’s a submerged city in Qiandao Lake…which I will most definitely make my way over too…but once I land in China/Taiwan…I will be too focused on getting recipes than on getting dives in.

As I alluded to before, here’s a recipe from December of 2014, when I was in Taiwan and the idea of backpacking all over China was just an idea. I took a cooking class with Ivy in Taipei, where she taught us how to make a lovely meal. Here is her recipe for hot and sour soup, that I totally dig and recreate whenever I can.

Hot and sour soup is of Sichuan origins. In Taiwan, you’ll often find it supplemented with duck’s blood (it has the texture of soft tofu). Adjust the vinegar and chili oil portion to your tasting, though I think Ivy’s measurements are perfect.

DSC_0654

Hot and Sour Soup

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 lb pork loin, shredded
2 boxes of tender soft tofu, shredded
1 cup fresh black wood ear (soak it in water before hand, chop it into pieces)
3 small bamboo shoots
3/4 cut carrot shredded
3 eggs, beaten

(1) 3.6 liters chicken broth
3 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar

(2) 6 tbsp cornstarch
6 tsbp water

(3) 6 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp black pepper
6 stalks coriander, chopped
3 stalks spring onion, chopped
3/2 tsp chili oil

DIRECTIONS:
1. Add bamboo in water, bring to a boil and cook for 25 minutes. Shell and trim off tough outer layer, shredded. Cut into thin slices.
2. Bring ingredients to a boil. Add pork, tofu, bamboo shoots, wood ear, and carrots. Bring to another boil, thicken with ingredients (2). Drizzle egg and stir in one direction.
3. Turn heat off, add ingredients (3) and mix well.

DSC_0650

A Letter To My Christian Past On Gay Marriage

11403120_10204870156486984_2804444316068203947_n

Dear Clarissa:

It is 2010 and you have posted an ignorant and ridiculous message on your Facebook wall about how you are sorely disappointed that Prop 8 in California was overturned.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 12.46.52 PM

You’re disappointed at how the sanctity of what you define as love and marriage has been defiled. You feel like you’re a minority and that people will hate on you for expressing your belief that you do not believe in same-sex marriage. All at the same time, you know that this is just another instance of persecution against the church and you worry about the LGBT-agenda and how it will threaten your Christian community. Gay marriage should not be allowed because it’s wrong and perverse, you’re convinced. And today, it’s you and your faith against the world.

Thank the Lord, then, for the next five years. Because right now, you know nothing about love.

You’ll realize that true love is in scarcity in this world and that to find anyone who loves you unconditionally is a miracle in and of itself and that should be cherished. You’ll learn that judging people based on their sex is the most perverse act of all. You’ll learn that attraction can’t be helped or reasoned and that romantic love is magnetic and unexplainable. You’ll learn that marriage isn’t a union of penis plus vagina. It’s a union of two souls. Whether or not you have complimentary sexual reproductive organs has nothing on your ability to love and to cherish, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health.

“It doesn’t mean you should act on it,” you would shoot back.

No. But it’s a far worse sin than to be anything than true to yourself.

In the next five years, some of your closest friends will come out to you and you will realize that nothing has changed, besides the pronouns of who your friend is dating. You will realize that love has nothing to do with the sex of a human being and that penis or vagina is simply a matter of preferences. Most of all, you’ll realize how it’s none of your business what people’s preferences are.

You’ll learn that to say “Banning homosexuality means saving the souls of the lost” is an extremely bigoted and ignorant statement. By saying that, you are immediately judging others and by saying that, you are saying that you know what’s best.

Of course, this won’t convince you. You’ll argue that incest and bestiality are next and that humanity is fulfilling the Biblical prophesy of being chaotic and immoral.

Here’s the thing: You don’t know what’s best.

You don’t know the feeling of being in the hospital, knowing your loved one is dying and not being able to be by their side because you’re not technically a family member. You don’t know the feeling of hiding your sexuality and true self in the fears that your entire network of friends will judge you.

And you may never learn that.

But you will learn a bit more about love than you do now, at 2010.

Love means accepting your friends for who they are, what they love, what they do. It means fighting for their right to be with whomever makes them happy, it means treating them like an equal. It means trusting that they know what’s best for them.

Of course, given your upbringing, you’ll have a whole other letter in response to this arguing back on every single point.

But in five years you’ll be a little bit wiser, have gotten a couple heartbreaks under your belt, and experienced love in its craziest and rawest form. After all of that you’ll realize: to love and to be loved is the most precious thing and is an experience everyone deserves to have. The opportunity to do so should not be based on what lies underneath one’s pants.

You won’t believe in the Bible anymore, but this verse will always hold true:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Coronado Islands Scuba Diving

11141754_10204870732221377_8886769629805903038_o
11426790_10204870786822742_4177969427280272673_o

11055357_10204870785742715_9045454736495014615_o

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0562.I’m in San Diego this weekend — visiting friends before my international travels.

Decided to sign up for a boat dive. I went to Coronado Islands off the coast of Mexico through Waterhorse Charters. Got extremely seasick, but the dive was worth the trek out there. Lots of sea lions, a school of fish, and the visibility was stellar.

Map

11393196_834022336680239_8842226879872377465_n
My National Geographic map of China has come in the mail. Seeing the hundreds of little cities in each province is making this feel super overwhelming. Time to start routing….

A Note

I wanted to address something re: my crowdfunding campaign.

For those pulling out the “this girl is rich” card, why is she doing this, I’ll say this:

1) I support myself 100% with all the money I make from my freelance career and trust me when I say it’s not a lot. I make money off of traveling because I write about my travels. I work my ass off every day writing articles and on weekends, leading food tours. I don’t tap into my family’s money at all, besides living at home to save money.

2) If I go on this trip without crowdfunding help, I will not be able to finish the project. I will be tapping into my savings regardless but it’s not a lot.

3) I am not using any of the money for profit — it is going to logistics and hiring LOCAL help.

4) The product is a collection of recipes that don’t exist to that scale currently. I will be there working — you know, interviewing, sourcing, booking, taking photos, writing. Sure my life looks and sounds like a glamorous compilation of plane tickets and food shots, but behind all of that is a lot of work. I’m a writer — I get paid to write.

5) I am also committed to being as transparent as possible about this process, as I am asking for the public’s money. So ask me questions before you come to nasty conclusions.

I’m Scared + I Can’t Believe I Did This

So I’m going to be madly blogging the next year of my life, because I just did this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.18.40 PM
Help Me Collect Recipes From All Of China

As I type this, my hands are shaking, my cheek is a crimson red, my heart is pounding and I feel like crying. You see — this is an extremely vulnerable thing that I just shared, even though to you, the average reader, it’s just another Internet thing.

I’m freaking out because this idea, collecting recipes from all of China, has been my baby and daydream for the last year. I’ve tossed and turned it around with my friends, deleted it, revived it, and today, because of a series of events in the last week, decided to just DO IT.

I’m going to be realistic and say I’m probably not going to hit my goal. $20,000 for four months? As a freelance writer, that’s fundraising more than my average salary per month (hahah I know this is kinda sad). But I promise guys, this isn’t a ruse to steal your money or use it to party in the clubs of Shanghai. I really want to document the recipes of China in an earnest and professional way. This type of resource just doesn’t exist. I’ve scoured the bookstores. Even in China and Taiwan.

(For those who are new to this blog, you can see a small cross-section on my past coverage on Chinese food here.)

I’m also terrified because putting this out to the world means that I’m committing to this journey and it’s a journey that I’m terrified of (even though it will be exciting).

You see, I’m terrified of it because I’ve lived in China before. And it can get extremely lonely, as a woman who looks Chinese but is actually American. The same hospitality extended to Westernized-looking Americans isn’t always granted to me.

I’m terrified because I remember the feeling of sitting in a pedicab in Suzhou by myself trying to madly find the train station and with a driver I didn’t trust. I remember people meeting me initially and bombarding me with just one of two questions: 1) Do you have a boyfriend? 2) Why do you have acne?

I’m dreading the food poisoning I always get, and the crowds that push and shove during the train stations. I’m wary of the crowded hostels and the taxicabs that purposely go the long route because they know you’re not a local.

But I KNOW this will be worth it.

317521_2549967711434_1850030241_n1
I remember the Gobi Desert and the singing tour guide who lived simply and took me and my friend camping in the sand dunes. The restaurant in Shanghai with fatty pork cubes that became my ultimate comfort food, even though it was 40 minutes from campus, by cab. The sweet potato vendor, the crepe guy at breakfast, the poor migrant worker who is spending all of his life miles away from his family living in a construction zone just to make a living, just to send money back to his wife and son. The beautiful kids with cleft chins, adopted by an American family, living in the suburbs of China.

And of course — the food.

dsc_0837

I don’t know where my journey will take me, I can’t guarantee that I will succeed. But I will say — that I will spend every moment in China looking and documenting as many recipes as I can.

I’m going regardless of whether or not I get the money. I’ll dip into my savings, I might just have to deal with it solo — without a photographer friend and any sort of company. I might run out of money, I might have to come home.

But this week, after spending it with a legion of people I call mentors, I learned:

There’s what you plan for and there’s what shows up.

Dear world: this is my plan.

dsc_01342