Flounder with kale, almonds and preserved lemons

When I was in high school, Dad bought a liquor store, and I became a liquor store employee. Contrary to popular expectations, being a teenager in a liquor store is not a high road to debauchery. I had to be there first thing in the morning to help with beer deliveries, which also meant cleaning…

The literal picture of irony

Here it is, the actual one. “I refuse to conform to society’s rules, and I express that choice by wearing the blandest consumer items for sale at this mall.” “That’ll show ’em!” From the Westgate Mall in Oxford.

“China’s dairy century,” video online

This talk introduces China’s dairy century as three distinct trajectories: production, consumption and culture. I gave this talk a few months ago, and the nice people at Cornell were kind enough to make a very good recording. Other talks from their “Contemporary China Initiative” series are available on the same page. I’m curious about just…

Boston! Upcoming Harvard talk on milk in China

Another busy week. Last Sunday, I flew to Boston, not (as I had dreaded) through Newark, but through Delta’s pleasant hub in Detroit. Why the change? Because the whole Northeast was blanketed in thunderstorms, which prompted a last minute rerouting. It also made the flights themselves a real adventure, especially for those of us in…

Animal stories: The drooling horse…

If you grew up in the Chicago area, you will no doubt appreciate a very particular kind of humor. Right now I am back in Montana visiting my lovely sister Jen, and we were trying to put our finger on exactly what defines Chicago humor.  You definitely know it when you see it — Son…

Shenzhen – double skin milk

Its been a couple of weeks and a few thousand kilometers since Bayannuur. After that, I went on an epic train journey through Hohhot, Chifeng, Tongliao and Qiqihar – arriving three days and some visible beard growth later back in Hailar. Hailar was basically the three r-s, resting, riting, and running so apart from the…

Seriously, Bayannuur, what the hell? (also, sheep)

Here’s a trick for you. The next time you find yourself in the mountains, or specifically find yourself leaving the mountains, make sure to bring a loaf of bread. Pack it nicely so it doesn’t get smooshed in your luggage, and then open it up at sea level. I did this recently when I left Lanzhou….

Lanzhou night market – sweet egg milk

Hello from Lanzhou! This is the big industrial city of the Northwest, once known for its horrific pollution. Now that the pollution is mostly cleaned up, I’m not sure what it’s known for, but my guess would be noodles. Every city has at least one Lanzhou beef noodles shop. Since I am pretty tired of…

Qinghai – and the best yoghurt in China

Someone call Professor Oak, because I’ve officially caught them all. I had already traveled through most of China in the late 1990s, but Qinghai was the last one – the one place I had never been. I finally made the trip last week, and just to celebrate the occasion, the gods of travel decided to…

Milk of Mongolia

Did you know that I am very interested in milk? Most people who have spent more than two minutes with me tend to become aware of that, at which point they decide that two minutes was already more than enough, thank you. I am still in Hulunbuir, having had a very eventful couple of weeks,…