Style over substance at BoCaphe

For my friend’s birthday, we went to BoCaphe in SoHo. All of New York’s SoHo area is trendy, and BoCaphe’s location, mere meters away from Jack’s Wife Freda and down the block from the mothership Supreme store, may have reflected in its menu too much. Visually, the place was stunning. The atmosphere of the light-filled…

Mochi pounding

At the beginning of this month, I saw a post on Facebook about mochi pounding at Ootoya’s Greenwich Village location in NYC. Ootoya is a authentic Japanese izakaya chain. By authentic, we mean that there isn’t anything particularly interesting on the menu, although it’s all very good, in the way you’d expect Japanese food to…

Jin Ding Xuan, again

The first time I went to Jin Ding Xuan was after a day of exploring the hutongs near the Lama Temple. I didn’t know the hutongs were also home to the Beijing Temple of Confucius. I went back a few days later, stopping at Jin Ding Xuan first for lunch. We started with a cold…

Jin Ding Xuan

The ding is a type of vessel which is one of the symbols of Chinese civilization in the Chinese consciousness. The ding is associated with power and domination, and the number of ding you could own was restricted by rank. The Shanghai Museum is even shaped like a ding! However, the ding cauldron did have practical uses, such as storage, ritual,…

Lunch in Beijing’s Muslim quarter

After visiting the mosque from my last post, it was time for lunch. We went into one of the casual restaurants lining Niujie (literally Oxen Street or Cow Street, likely a reference to the halal diet of Muslims). I ordered liangpi (“cold skin”). Liangpi are noodle-shaped but aren’t starchy or doughy like noodles, but gelatinous. They are served cold…

Beijing’s largest mosque

China is officially an atheist society; many references to Buddhism exist as cultural but not religious aspects of life. Visitors might be surprised to learn of the Muslim presence here. Chinese Muslims are predominately Uighur (central Asian/middle eastern culture) or Hui (assimilated into the dominant East Asian Chinese culture). Beijing’s Niujie area is full of…

Cooperstown NY, the birthplace of baseball

Ok, so Cooperstown being the birthplace of baseball is really a marketing thing that is not exactly true. The situation is complicated and, not being a baseball fan, I don’t care to recap it here, but there’s a detailed write-up on Major League Baseball’s website you can read. I came to Cooperstown (AMTRAK from New…

A famous hoax and a carousel + more snapshots of The Farmers’ Museum

The Farmers’ Museum really has something for everybody. Their welcome exhibit does a good job of laying out what visitors can expect: This was in a building that looked like this: Activities for Sugaring Off Sunday: Special events for the year: It’s pretty cool that there’s regional Civil War history being taught up here. Because…

A printing press from the 1800s

“I know this keyboard better than the computer keyboard,” the printer in the printing shop said. I had gone into this shop after leaving the blacksmith shop at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY. It was filled with functional printing presses, moveable type, and examples of printed work. The Farmers’ Museum offers letterpress workshops. This is…

Meeting a blacksmith

The Blacksmith Shop at The Farmers’ Museum was built in 1827. It was used continuously as a forge until 1934. Today, it is still a functioning forge turning out product the traditional way, but it does not operate full-time. I talked to one of the smiths at work. This man is 26 and started smithing…

Shanghai Zhujiajiao Water Town: street scenes

My last post about Zhujiajiao Water Town showcased traditional Chinese heritage through food, but the sprawling water town actually incorporates modernity and tradition in its storefronts, architecture, and general scene. The straightness of the roofs in these pictures demonstrates the mixing of Chinese and western culture apparent even in this relatively exotic setting. Chinese roofs…

Yunnan pt. 7: Yunnan Nationalities Village

Yunnan pt. 1: The diversity of Chinese culture Yunnan pt. 2: Horseriding Yunnan pt. 3: The Old Town of Lijiang Yunnan pt. 4: Impression Lijiang Yunnan pt. 5: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Yunnan pt. 6: Shuhe Ancient Town My visit to the Yunnan Nationalities Village in Kunming was one of my most memorable experiences in…