Food

Plain porridge with pickled lettuce is enough for a hearty breakfast. (iStock)

Pickled vegetables, fermented beancurd and stinky egg: An art historian's love of preserved foods

Ensconced in Dapu village in Chishang, a Hakka enclave where air-drying is a common way to preserve food, art historian Chiang Hsun muses about the ways that Chinese and others around the world have ingeniously learnt how to preserve food for long periods of time from methods ranging from pickling to salt-curing and air-drying. In food preservation as in life, time builds character and patience often yields rewards.
A general view of Flushing in New York, US, a vibrant Asian enclave. (SPH Media)

Cultural historian: Worth the train ride to Flushing, Queens for tasty jujube pastry

Never did cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai think that he would find the most authentic and delicious jujube pastry of his dreams in Flushing, Queens of New York City. How the suburb has changed in the last 40 years, transforming into somewhat of a Chinese food haven.
Foreign tourists walk past a banner of the G20 for the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesia resort island of Bali on 14 July 2022. (Sonny Tumbelaka/Pool/AFP)

Indonesia’s G20 presidency: Carving out a path for developing countries' representation

Amid a world shaken by global events, President Jokowi has done his fair share of shuttle diplomacy in the lead-up to the G20 Summit in Bali later this year. While Indonesia has the potential to play an intermediary role among global powers, it remains circumspect and looks to push forward the G20 agenda in incremental and achievable steps.
Members of social organisations demonstrate after camping overnight at Plaza de Mayo square in front of Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires on 11 August 2022, during a protest demanding better wages and more jobs and a meeting with Argentina's new economy minister Sergio Massa. Argentina has suffered years of economic crisis, with some 37% of its population now living in poverty. Inflation for the first half of this year alone topped 36%. (Luis Robayo/AFP)

Can the world survive these six crises?

Economics professor Zhang Rui identifies the main crises faced by global economies today, their various effects, and how they are interrelated. How will governments handle these challenges and work together to ease the impact of what seems to be a perfect storm of negative factors?
A roadside offering of iced gem biscuits. (Photo: Terence Heng)

Lasting ties: Food for the departed

In life as in death, food brings people together and is a means to commune with one another, as seen in rituals during the seventh lunar month or Hungry Ghost Festival. Perhaps in feeding the spirits of the dearly departed, the unknown and indeed their own, people are reminded that an ending is not the end and that the bond between the living and dead is never broken.
A young woman walks in the train station of Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, on 2 August 2022. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)

Russia-Ukraine war: Impacts on global supply chains and China-Ukraine relations

Ukrainian academic Olga Brusylovska explains why the world economy and food supply are in turmoil from the Russia-Ukraine war, and how the war is also affecting China-Ukraine relations and China's trade and investments in Ukraine.
People dig for clams on the intertidal zone of Fangyuan Township, Changhua County, Taiwan. (CNS)

The old days of eating well without a refrigerator

Have we lost more than we gained with the invention of the refrigerator? With giant fridges in each household, sometimes more than one, stuffed to the brim with frozen food and leftovers, are we eating less well now than when we had no means to store food? Chiang Hsun ponders the question.
A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19 works at a stall in a market in Taipei, Taiwan, 26 November 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

Taiwanese art historian: Why a mother's winter melon soup is best

Like the art of cooking, which often involves a mastery of heat control, living a good life is determined by how we can temper our souls, do what we are put on this earth to do and not take things for granted. We may not know what our life’s purpose is immediately, but if we stay the course, we can adjust the embers of our lives as we walk on.
How does a cup of HK$68 milk tea taste? (iStock)

Song dynasty emperor's brewing secrets in a cup of HK milk tea

As far as a passion for tea goes, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai meets his match in a tea shop owner in Sham Tseng. The tea connoisseur is an alchemist almost as he varies the ingredients and brewing methods to concoct the most memorable teas.