Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Taiwanese food & board games

Yesterday I hosted a small dinner party and games night. The guest of honor was a friend who had just come back from China after a year of travel and study, so I didn't want to serve Chinese food, but I did want to try something new. Finally I decided to make lwun bianh (transliteration mine), a Taiwanese-style meal that consists of lots of tiny portions of different dishes, mixed together and rolled in a wrapper with peanut powder and Hoisin sauce. It's actually pretty healthy, since most of the dishes are cooked vegetables, except that the recipe calls for lacing the peanut powder with a substantial amount of sugar.

I did discover that peanut powder is pretty hard to get, even here in the Bay Area. They didn't have it at the Asian grocery store in my neighborhood, I didn't see it at Ranch 99, and when I asked my mom where to get it, her response was to ask "...in this country?" and to send me some that my dad had just brought back from Taipei.

I'm not sure if I got everything 100% right, but only two or three people had any basis for comparison, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food. Now I'm somewhat motivated to learn more Taiwanese dishes. Maybe I'll try gwa bao next, since I have leftover peanut powder.

After eating, we broke out a new game, Carcassonne, named after a city in France famous for its Roman and medieval ruins. It's basically a tile-placing game, with "follower" figures that represent control of tiles, with some points calculated during the game and some afterwards, which keeps things interesting. I liked it about as much as Puerto Rico, but less than Citadels and Ticket to Ride. I know, I'm weird.

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