Before the Linsanity…

Yes, I know I’ve been posting a lot about JLIN these past three weeks, but c’mon, how could I resist? I wanted to share with you this great article I came across via my friend Alvin who is a true hardcore pre-NBA Lin supporter and has been flooding my facebook newsfeed with everything Lin this past month (forget the Linsanity app, just add Alvin as a friend for updates, lol). Anyways, the article entitled “Understanding Jeremy Lin” was written by Annie Wang, a classmate of Jeremy’s who was in the same Asian-American Christian fellowship at Harvard. She does an absolutely fantastic job at delivering a sincere and personal look into the man behind Linsanity (a real breath of fresh air, given all these reiterated media slices).

I really love this section of the piece:

The truth is, Jeremy does represent movements much bigger than himself. He is at once the timely savior of a struggling franchise, a profitable posterboy for a rejuvenated league, a champion for the often-overlooked Asian-American population, and a provocative agent of change within a conflicted China. And, of course, he is making the biggest splash as outspoken flagbearer for the cause he has steadfastly and intentionally pursued – the advancement of the Christian faith. But though much of our initial interest in Jeremy stemmed from a basic shared commonality in one of these aspects of his identity, or his appeal as the protagonist of a Cinderella story to which we might aspire, we have since nearly forgotten that Jeremy is just a man after all.

Check out the full article HERE

After reading, I couldn’t help but wish I had known Jeremy in college – what a charismatic and humble dude. I am not at all religious, however, if I were interested, I wouldn’t mind learning about faith through someone like Lin. GOOD GUY JEREMY.

Also, check out this DOPE shirt I got from MYNINJA!

FIERCE!

Also, THIS HAD ME DYING:

 

Lastly, if you need a crash course on Linsanity, check out this awesome infographic depicting Jeremy’s rise to fame. Ok, I’ve posted enough about him this week, lol.

John

p.s. I got tickets to see the Bulls vs. Knicks at the United Center in Chicago on March 12th! My first NBA game! Drop a comment if you’re going; I’m rockin’ nosebleeds in section 330, woot!

Why I always eat my vegetables…

Growing up in an Asian household, I think one of the things I am most thankful for is the eating habits I’ve acquired. I guess I have to attribute most of this to my family, which is FULL of fantastic cooks, but I realize that there is something innate in Asian culture that has led to such healthy and flavorful cuisine. As a people, we are very resourceful, especially when it comes to food. If you think about it, traditional chinese cuisine is not really rich or extravagant, but rather wholesome and always full of flavor. We find ways to utilize almost every part of an animal or plant and can stretch a couple dishes to feed an entire family. Not to mention it’s all pretty healthy too! When was the last time you saw a chinese dish that used butter, cream or cheese in it? Never, because it simply isn’t done (dim sum desserts don’t count). And you wonder why your Asian friends are all so thin (though international McDonald’s and KFC have been changing that as of late).

Nevertheless, I haven’t always loved Chinese food. In fact, I used to be quite a pick eater when I was younger – go ahead and ask my parents; there was a time when I demanded Happy Meals and pizza rolls day in and day out and had to be force fed my spinach. But gradually (I think traveling back to China so often had a large part to do with it), I began to appreciate zhōngcān, and even started to crave it when I had too many sandwiches back-to-back. There is a certain comfort in a blank canvas of white rice: that foundation of clean, pure and unadulterated nourishment that marries with practically any sauce, meat and vegetable – what’s not to love? Grabbing up a bowl of the finest short-grain and sitting around sharing plates of food “family-style” is something I’ve always loved about Asian cuisine:

HEY! QUIT TAKING PICTURES, WE TRYNA EAT!

But I digress. What I really wanted to talk about in this post was how being Chinese has instilled in me a love for fruits and vegetables. I know it sounds strange, but I am very thankful for it. Despite my finicky palette as a kid, I remember always asking my mom to buy us juicy mangoes, seedless watermelon and those delicious, crispy Asian pears. Being introduced to fresh produce at a young age, I really can’t imagine what it would be like without it. It wasn’t until I started having sleepovers with my white friends that I realized how lucky I was. I mean, the only fruits and vegetables my friends ever ate came out a yellow can and were either drenched in blindingly sweet syrup or frozen solid. That’s no way to live!

One particular childhood memory I have regarding food was having dinner down the street at my white friend’s house when I was about 8 years old. We had roasted chicken (yum), fresh dinner rolls (YUM!) and… some odd, yellowish/brown item I later learned was… buttered broccoli (-____-). Why must white people do such horrible things to their vegetables? Strange as it may sound for a third grader, broccoli was actually one of my absolute favorite foods… and it sure as hell it wasn’t supposed to look like that! What I’ve always seen as a bright, crunchy and fragrant green was reduced down to a soggy, fattening, denatured mess. But being the polite guest, I forced it down and pretended to enjoy it. My friend saw this, thinking I actually liked it, and shoveled his broccoli onto my plate while his dad wasn’t looking! Infuriated, but not wanting to cause any trouble, I woefully ate his portion. And that was the last time I ever ate there.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my friend; that he had to be subject to this culinary injustice is such a travesty! If you’ve always hated broccoli, then I blame your parents. I also blame butter. And if you’ve only eaten broccoli that’s been doused in cheese or ranch dressing, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. Try some of mama Huang’s 西兰花 and you’ll be wondering why you’ve been so silly all these years.

So for my first bananalife recipe, I am going to share with you one of the simplest and best-tasting ways to prepare broccoli (credit goes to my mom!)

STIR-FRIED BROCCOLI W/GARLIC (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2x broccoli crowns
  • 3-4x cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of water or beef/chicken broth
  • kosher salt to taste
Equipment:
  • Stovetop
  • Large skillet or wok
  • Slotted spatula
  • Cutting board and chef’s knife
Preparation
  1. Remove any leafy parts from the trunk of the broccoli crowns and wash with cold water.
  2. Take the crowns and tear off florets into bite sized pieces (larger florets can be halved). You will be left with the tough trunk section which can be peeled and sliced into thin pieces (don’t throw it out!)
  3. The garlic should be sliced into very thin rounds. Like in Goodfellas. Well, maybe not THAT thin, but you get the idea.
  4. Heat the oil in your skillet to medium-high heat; add the garlic slivers and toast until fragrant (should only take a minute or so). Don’t let the garlic burn!
  5. Add your broccoli florets to the pan and stir to coat with the garlic infused oil.
  6. Add the 1/2 cup of water or broth to the pan. This will prevent the garlic from burning; the steam will start to cook the broccoli (but you don’t have to cover it).
  7. Sprinkle salt to taste and continue to stir occasionally for about 5 more minutes.
  8. Once the broccoli is bright green, tender yet still crunchy, you can take it off the heat and serve!

This is how it should be done. Butter, GTFO.

I think the reason why this is so delicious is that it accentuates the great texture and color of the vegetable without compromising its taste. Since broccoli on its own is rather bland, the garlic adds the right amount of flavor without overpowering its natural floral fragrance. YEAH, I KNOW WASSUP!!!

Hope you guys enjoy! If you have young kids, this is the way to introduce them to broccoli 🙂

John

PICTURE OF THE WEEK: cousin packin’ heat

After coming home from China this winter break, I raided my family’s old photo albums to discover some gems. This is by far my favorite:

Peng Song packin' HEAT

My yi ma (mom’s older sister) and cousin Peng Song when she was about 3 (she is 2.5 years older than me so this was probably ’88 or ’89). FWAHAHAHA.

More where this came from.

Jeremy Lin, FTA!!!

I admit it, I am not a huge basketball fan. Or a big sports fan in general. But c’mon, with 23 year-old Jeremy Lin‘s performance over the past two games at MSG (lol, I just realized that unfortunate abbreviation), I think I may start paying more attention to the NBA. Now, before my b-ball enthusiast friends get all bandwagon-hater on me, let me just say it really does take a lot for me to become invested in a national sport. I really have never been interested in watching ESPN or following athletes. But this guy is inspiring. Reading about his story, watching his humorous youtube vids and seeing him go from benchwarmer to MVP these past couple days has seriously made me proud to be an ABC.

Jeremy Shu-How Lin (林書豪)

If you aren’t familiar with Lin, he is the first ever American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play for the National Basketball Association. Originally from Palo Alto, CA, he captained his high school team and ended up shining as first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year. Despite wanting to play college basketball for UCLA, he opted going to Harvard, where he was guaranteed a spot on their team (but with no athletic scholarship, as Ivys do not offer them). He excelled at the game all throughout his time there, setting Ivy League scoring records, majoring in economics, maintaining a 3.1 GPA and being an all around BOSS. After graduation, he went from going undrafted, to playing for the Golden State Warriors and then finally being pulled by the Knicks this past season.

He's 6' 3". Both his parents are 5'6''. WTF.

Despite possessing great talent, Jeremy’s journey to play professionally wasn’t easy. As you can imagine, Lin faced a lot of prejudice because of his race – it’s obvious our demographic doesn’t provide many basketball superstars, and as a result, coaches and managers just didn’t see the potential. But Jeremy has been able to persevere and transcend all that; becoming a role model for countless Asian-Americans across the country as a result. He has joined a growing crowd of individuals who are breaking out of the stereotypical Asian norm in modern America; I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for him. Not only is he well educated (insert Asian dad meme here, lol), his incredible skills and humble demeanor have honored and will continue to honor the league of ABCs. Mr. Lin, YOU MY NINJA!

And in cased you missed it, part 1 of the Jeremy Lin show:

And part 2!

AND PART 3!

JEREMY LIN, FOR THE ASIANS!!!

I’ve always sucked at Chinese tones…

If you’re a redditor, you probably saw this on the front page a couple days ago:

Here’s what it sounds like:

If you weren’t already aware, Mandarin Chinese is tonal language; the way in which you speak certain ‘words’ changes the meaning. The classic example: 妈, 麻, 马, and 骂 are four different characters with completely different meanings (mother, hemp, horse, and scold, respectively) yet they are all pronounced ‘ma’. What distinguishes them is their differing intonation; this video does a pretty good job explaining it.

For non-native speakers, this is probably the hardest thing to master when you are trying to learn the language. And as you can imagine, inability to distinguish tones can often cause awkward, lost-in-translation type situations  (I can personal attest to this – more stories to come).

Chinese is hard -__-