Sunday was just the best day.
You remember, perhaps, that I wrote recently about my travails preparing the soft food diet for my daughter’s fractured jaw. In the comments of that post, my friend, Jim, who writes the fascinating “Road To Parnassus” blog and resides in Taiwan, suggested I give “bai mu-er” a shot. As it happened, my husband was in Taiwan that very day – what are the odds, I ask you? – and could get his hands on the ingredients which he dutifully lugged home. Culinary kismet at work. I would definitely be giving this exotic dessert soup a try soon.
Sooner than I thought, it turns out. Saturday we heard from friends from Washington state who were in Virginia for a family wedding and wondered if we’d be around on Sunday for a visit. Would we? Oh, I don’t pass up a chance to see my friend, Kathy, easily. A bit of schedule reshuffling and we were on for tea in the early afternoon.
Last time I saw Kathy we had abandoned the merry band of wayfarers with whom we’d hiked the Scottish Highlands and hit Edinburgh for some serious book shopping. Oh my, oh my. Those book stores are post-worthy in and of themselves. Dash it to bits, I wish I had been writing my blog then.
Putting together a spot of tea was a snap. Beloved husband had come home with tins of delicious oolong tea and special tea cookies from Hong Kong. All I had to do was whip up the bai mu-er the night before and we were all set.
So what the heck is bai mu-er? It’s a fungus. A lovely delicate fungus that when combined with water, sugar, and dried or fresh fruits yields a delicious, sweet dessert soup. I learned very early in my Asian travels not to concern myself with what is in a specific dish (within reason, of course.) One of my favorite Chinese desserts is a black jelly. Yes, I agree, a bit of rebranding is in order to appeal to most Western palates.
Here I have the bai mu-er soaking:
Here it is simmering away with Chinese red dates and Chinese wolfberries:
And now I let it chill overnight in the fridge in preparation for tea on Sunday afternoon. Would our friends be willing to give it a try? Because, you know….fungus.
Well, I really do have the coolest friends, I have to say. Because, of course, they gave it a try with a terrific sense of adventure. You know there is such difference between “What’s that?” and “Ooooh, what have we here?”
So we sat in the garden and drank tea, sipped bai mu-er, nibbled cookies, and caught up on life. What could be better? Well, maybe if Jim could have joined us, but it is a tad out-of-the-way for him, I suppose.
How about you? What’s the most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten? Have you ever been served something as a guest that you really, really didn’t want to try?
Thanks for reading,