Thursday, August 10, 2017

At the heart of every restaurant

Tom Sietsema

August 7, 2017

Our food critic works a shift to understand why top chefs are starting to give dishwashers their due.

My dish hose has a mind of its own.

Every time I use it to spray a geyser of water onto a dirty plate, it splashes clean whatever it touches — and shoots much of the detritus back into my face. By the end of my shift, I’ve ingested specks of just about every dish at this restaurant: rice, seafood, salsa, black beans, you name it. And each time I set the wriggling rubber snake down between tasks, it repositions itself, obliging me to apologize to colleagues for soaking more than just myself.

Until recently, the most dishes I’ve ever washed were at home, following a dinner party for 10. So why would I sign up to do it at a 250-seat restaurant? Because I wanted to experience firsthand the job that CNN star Anthony Bourdain says taught him “every important lesson of my life,” the one New York chef Daniel Boulud calls “the best way to enter the business.”

Plenty of bandwidth has been lavished on the men and women who cook the food, pour the wine and otherwise pamper us in restaurants. Scant attention has been paid to some of the lowest-paid workers with the most responsibility, the ones chefs say are the linchpins of the restaurant kitchen. “You can’t have a successful service in a restaurant without a great dishwasher,” says Emeril Lagasse, the New Orleans-based chef and cookbook author with 14 restaurants across the country. “Bad ones will bring the ship down.”

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Debunking the myth of Chinese centrality to Asia

Shyam Saran

August 1, 2017


India is in a prolonged standoff with Chinese forces on the Doklam plateau. China may have been caught off guard after Indian armed forces confronted a Chinese road-building team in the Bhutanese territory.

Peaceful resolution requires awareness of the context for the unfolding events. China has engaged in incremental nibbling advances in this area, with Bhutanese protests followed by solemn commitments not to disturb the status quo. The intrusions continued.

This time, the Chinese signalled their intention to establish a permanent presence, expecting the Bhutanese to acquiesce while underestimating India’s response.

Managing the China challenge requires understanding the background of Chinese civilisation and the worldview of its people formed over 5,000 years of tumultuous history.

Caution is required before mechanistically applying historical patterns to the present, as these are overlaid with concepts borrowed from other traditions and behaviour patterns arising from deep transformations within China and the world at large.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

In Beijing, 20 Million People Pretend to Live :: 在北京,有2000万人假装在生活 (full translation)


By Megan Pan 

July 27, 2017 
 
Editor’s note: On July 23, the writer Zhang Wumao published an essay called “In Beijing, 20 Million People Pretend to Live” to his public WeChat account. As of the following morning, it had accumulated more than 5 million views and nearly 20,000 comments. 
Of course, the article was removed that very afternoon.
But by then, the essay had attracted thousands of responses. As our correspondent Megan Pan wrote for Radii:
Though the hubbub online has died down, the essay, a meditation on varying facets of life in Beijing, has since spawned over a hundred thousand countering essays in response. Titles include plays on the original essay’s title, such as “In Beijing, 20 Million People and “In Beijing, 20 Million People are Bravely Living,” and even direct digs at the author, such as “Mr. Zhang, You Aren’t Even a Beijing Kid So Why Are You Acting Like a Know-it-all.” The original essay has been lambasted as “making a fuss over nothing.”
But “In Beijing, 20 Million People Pretend to Live” resists easy summarization – it’s framed as a series of Zhang’s loosely related reflections on living in Beijing, heavily supported by anecdotes. He touches on a variety of topics that hit close to home: the everyday absurdities of urban sprawl, the never-ending struggle to buy a house, and alienation from home. As a nonlocal from Shaanxi who has been living in Beijing for the past eleven years, he also attempts to negotiate the tensions and differences between locals and nonlocals.
What follows is Megan Pan’s translation of that now-censored essay.

在北京,有2000万人假装在生活In Beijing, 20 Million People Pretend to Live


Monday, July 31, 2017

Behold the Trump boomerang effect

Fred Hiatt
Editorial Page Editor
The Washington Post

July 30 2017


Did your head spin when Utah’s Orrin Hatch, a true conservative and the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, emerged last week as the most eloquent spokesman for transgender rights? Credit the Trump boomerang effect.

Much has been said about White House dysfunction and how little President Trump has accomplished in his first six months. But that’s not the whole story: In Washington and around the world, in some surprising ways, things are happening — but they are precisely the opposite of what Trump wanted and predicted when he was sworn in.

The story of how a worm turned... into a bringer of medical miracles

July 31, 2017

PLOEMEUR (France) — For centuries, the only use humans found for the lugworm — dark pink, slimy and inedible — was on the end of a fish hook.

But the invertebrates’ unappreciated status is about to change.

Their blood, say French researchers, has an extraordinary ability to load up with life-giving oxygen.

Harnessing it for human needs could transform medicine, providing a blood substitute that could save lives, speed recovery after surgery and help transplant patients, they say.

“The haemoglobin of the lugworm can transport 40 times more oxygen from the lungs to tissues than human haemoglobin,” says Dr Gregory Raymond, a biologist at Aquastream, a fish-farming facility on the Brittany coastline.

“It also has the advantage of being compatible with all blood types.”

Trump is something the nation did not know it needed

George F. Will
Opinion writer
July 28 2017

Looking, as prudent people are disinclined to do, on the bright side, there are a few vagrant reasons for cheerfulness, beginning with this: Summer love is sprouting like dandelions. To the list of history’s sublime romances — Abelard and Heloise, Romeo and Juliet, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy — add the torrid affair between Anthony Scaramucci and President Trump. The former’s sizzling swoon for the latter is the most remarkable public display of hormonal heat since — here a melancholy thought intrudes — Jeff Sessions tumbled into love with Trump. Long ago. Last year.

Sessions serves at the pleasure of the president, who does not seem pleased. Still, sympathy for Sessions is in order: What is he to do? If dignity concerned him, he would resign; but if it did, he would not occupy a Trump-bestowed office from which to resign. Such are the conundrums of current politics. Concerning which, there is excessive gloom.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trump is killing the Republican Party

By Joe Scarborough

Washington Post

July 16, 2017


I did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left its senses. The political movement that once stood athwart history resisting bloated government and military adventurism has been reduced to an amalgam of talk-radio resentments. President Trump’s Republicans have devolved into a party without a cause, dominated by a leader hopelessly ill-informed about the basics of conservatism, U.S. history and the Constitution.

America’s first Republican president reportedly said , “Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The current Republican president and the party he controls were granted monopoly power over Washington in November and already find themselves spectacularly failing Abraham Lincoln’s character exam.