Monthly Archives: March 2012

Want Tibet?

Several years ago, while traveling in China, I had the opportunity to visit Tibet for a few days. It was not a long enough trip, and I keep hoping I’ll get back, but that hasn’t happened yet. However, I think Tibet is a destination worth sharing, as it is so remarkable. Of course, tourism has increased since I visited, with the Chinese government now encouraging visitors. But the beauty and cultural heritage of Tibet are still worth exploring.

The landscape of Tibet, while harsh, is tremendously beautiful. Mountains are the most obvious feature, forming the backdrop for everything. The primary color of the region is tan-to-gold, from the arid mountains to the sand that runs up walls, fills gaps, forms dunes at the mountains’ bases to the golden grasses and scrub that spread away from the precipitous walls. The off-white houses are sand-blasted to a tan that melts into the background. But there are other colors. The lakes reflect the vividly blue sky, and greenery and even flowers cluster around their shores. And Tibetans have introduced color wherever possible, from brightly painted roadside Buddhas to cascades of prayer flags, which one begins to see well before reaching Lhasa. Continue reading

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Warm Beef and Watercress Salad

The recipe below comes from Vietnam. Contrast and balance are important elements in most Asian cooking, and salads similar to this, which combine warm and cool elements in one dish, are common throughout Southeast Asia. Enjoy.

Warm Beef and Watercress Salad

3/4 lb. beef tenderloin, sirloin steak, or filet mignon
1 Tbs. green peppercorns, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stems lemon grass (white part only), very thinly sliced,
or 1 slightly rounded tsp. finely grated lemon rind
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp. ground black pepper
8 oz. watercress (about 1-1/2 average bunches)
4 oz. cherry tomatoes
4 scallions, sliced
2 Tbs. lime juice Continue reading

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Watercress

The Greek general Xenophon and the Persian King Xerxes ordered their soldiers to eat it to keep them healthy. Louis IX of France (St. Louis) found it so delightful that he placed it on a coat of arms. During the 14th-century, it had an important place on the menus at the courts of England’s Richard II and France’s Charles VI. And I just picked some up at my local grocery store.

Watercress, or Nasturtium officianale, is a member of the mustard family. It is native to Eurasia—the region of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean, more specifically. Despite the name, it is totally unrelated to the flower known as nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), which is native to South and Central America and Mexico. (Though unrelated, which even a casual glance confirms, the two do share in common peppery-tasting leaves. It is my guess that the New World native was named nasturtium for the Old World herb that was equally peppery. In fact, nasturtiums, which are also used in salads, were sometimes called Indian cress.) Continue reading

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