When I lived in the countryside of California for a while, I saw Shanghai spring bamboo shoots and frozen marrows lined up in the UOB supermarket.
The concept of seasons is gradually weakened here, flip-flops and short-sleeved T-shirts can be used for spring and summer, adding a jacket is autumn, what to do in winter, down undershirt. It seems that only the seasonal dishes from China remind us that it is spring.
When the season arrives, it’s time to eat spring food.
My family’s cemetery is in Qingpu, a suburb of the city. In the early years, I would bring home two live chickens from the nearby market after sweeping the graves. First, the whole chicken was cleaned and stewed, and when the yellow layer of chicken oil floated out, my mother would fish out the chicken meat and cut half of it out to make drunken chicken, and the remaining half, changed to low heat and continued to simmer slowly.
The half of the chicken is not seasoned with anything special, just coarse salt inside and out, and then cooled and soaked in a small amount of sorghum wine and half a bowl of Shao wine. At dinner time, the chicken was served in different sizes, and the chicken skin soaked in the juice was soft and glutinous, with the aroma of wine and saltiness, which was excellent for dinner.
Later, it was customary to eat a few peasant dishes in small restaurants in Qingpu as a “spring excursion”. I remember often ordered a double bamboo shoots with scallion oil, the kitchen picked up the root lettuce, sharp plucked the leaves, shaved the skin of the lettuce spring green shiny, mixed with cut spring asparagus tender head, emerald white jade look. The oil is boiled and salted, and when served, finely chopped green onions are sprinkled. The only thing that’s wrong is that the aromatic oil of the farmers is always a little bit worse, and the whole dish has more than a little bit of a shoddy aroma.
I also thought of marjoram, in the spring there are often farmers picking in the countryside, a plastic bag, a pair of scissors, less than half a day to fill a bag. The young leaves and stems of Malan head scalded with boiling water, and finely chopped dried beans cold, under the heavy small mill sesame oil, if a few pine nuts garnish, immediately exquisite like a banquet dish.
At this time of year, bundles of bundled toon are also sold. The price varies from week to week, and the earliest shoots are very expensive. The slightly reddish leaves are blanched and a few eggs, either duck or goose eggs, are cracked. The eggs are puffed and bubbled in the dark bottom of the wok, a primitive and rustic taste.
After Qingming, there are also fried clams with leeks, which are small yellow clams, a bit like sea gourds, with harder shells, and are eaten most often in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. My Ningbo grandmother would leave a dish of balsamic vinegar and carefully pick out the clam meat and feed it to my mouth.
She is old, her teeth are not good, usually eat some cooked dishes, but only this leek clam meat, every spring and summer to taste, sometimes pick some leeks, scoop a spoonful of soup mixed with rice, still eaten with great pleasure, she said, the old rice amount.
The ancients said that it is better to eat without meat than to live without bamboo, if you eat these dishes in the spring, those big fish and meat, naturally do not have to worry about it. The Chinese living abroad, to eat these spring dishes, I’m afraid most of them are to rely on memories and words to addiction it.