Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Water Chestnuts?!

You may know that I'm a avid podcast listener. One of the podcast I really enjoy is Every Little Thing which is a "show about small stuff." Episodes are usually about 20 minutes long and tell stories about things that are unexpectedly interesting. Subjects have included plastic chairs, the Dewey decimal system, flamingos and office plants. Recently they asked for listener questions and I called in and recorded my question... what are water chestnuts?

It's an odd question I suppose and probably one I could easily find the answer to -- I mean, I'm familiar with google. It's not a question that is at the front of my mind, until I'm eating Chinese food and I'm perplexed by the water chestnut.

Apparently, the producers of Every Little Thing were also intrigued. They called me and we set up a time for me to talk with producer Kathrine.

Kathrine and I talked for 40 minutes. She'd been researching water chestnuts for two weeks! It was a great chat. She is smart, engaging, witty, insightful and as curious about stuff as I am.

They edited our talk down to about 8 minutes and it's one of three listener questions in the newest episode. (The other two questions involved feet and the Take Me Out to the Ball Game.)

We talked about so much more than ended up in the podcast! That's fine, of course. I totally get that they need to tell a tight story. But, it reminded me that creative people in all kinds of businesses and industries are creating way more content than ever sees the light of day. And it takes way more time, effort, creative energy, focus --- and money -- than we often think about. (That's a subtle plug for giving financial support to the creators you enjoy.)

Other things we talked about that didn't make it into the podcast

  • translucent water chestnut cake
  • water chestnuts are called horses hoof in China
  • the popularity of Chinese food after Nixon's visit to China
  • bacon wrapped water chestnuts and their appearance on Mad Men
  • water chestnuts vs broccoli
  • Americans like water chestnuts because they are bland
  • food memories from childhood
  • canned vs fresh

I promised Kathrine that I would seek out some fresh water chestnuts, so I went to H Mart which is a giant Asian supermarket just down the street from my home and I found them!

In our conversation, Kathrine played me a clip from her interview with famous Chinese chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo who compared water chestnuts to jicama. Of course! Why had I not made that connection? Coincidently, jicama had been on my shopping list earlier in the week and they didn't have it at my regular grocery story. But, they had it at H Mart! A reminder to get out of my box and visit the many Asian and Mexican markets near by.

I'll have to do a side by side comparison. (Check my Facebook and IG for that.)

Last night I posted this image to IG asking if anyone knew what it was. There were several good guesses, but no one was right! Apparently, I'm not the only one who didn't really know what a water chestnut was.

When I posted this picture, Sujata Shaw and Anna Martinez answered correctly! (Someone else did guess jicama!)

I did peel and slice up one of the water chestnuts yesterday afternoon. Yes! Better than canned! Tasty, even raw. Starchy and chewy, but interesting. I'll make stir fry later this week.

I hope you'll listen to the episode and let me know what you think. You can stream here or find it on your favorite podcast app. It's Every Little Thing, ELT Help Line.


Anonymous said...

Reading your blog today was fascinating and entertaining! I loved the podcast from toes to water chestnuts to baseball! I hope you saved a fresh water chestnut for me to sample! I'm still smiling as I think about what fun it was to listen to "Every Little Thing! ❤️

Lyric said...

I'll have to try the podcast - since it is short it might actually get listened to! I love the texture of canned water chestnuts. We have a new HMart here so I'll have to go hunt for them and try them out.
We love jicama - tastes like garden peas!

Diane Perin said...

That's so cool, Deborah! Great question (I've wondered that myself) and I look forward to hearing the episode!!

Gene Black said...

I fell in love with jicama on a trip to Mexico. It is surprisingly available in my area. I don't think I have ever seen fresh water chestnuts, but now I will have to check our small Asian markets and see if I can find some to try.
I really enjoyed your section of the podcast.

Sarah Ann Smith said...

I always follow you on podcasts.... of course never have enough time to listen! As for *fresh* water chestnuts....kinda think I'm out of luck finding them in Maine!