Isn’t it strange how you will see something everyday, and because you have seen it so often, you assume that you know what it is, or what it means?
Assuming something about anything or anyone is generally a treacherous endeavor. More often than not it results in the formation of a thought that is a nothing more than a disguised opinion.
So here I have been looking at Mr. Wu’s place mats and ASSUMING that the Chinese characters on the right hand side of them spells out “Royal Panda”. Wrong! Buzzzzzzz. Incorrect answer.
Instead it says, and this is sort of a loose translation, “Master of Roots.”
Nope, I would not have assumed or even guessed that it said that!
The waiter and Mr. Wu explained that there is a book, and if I understand correctly, it is titled, MASTER OF ROOTS. The idea is that if a chef can make a lowly vegetable into an outstanding dish, then he is truly a master chef, who can do even more astounding things with more exotic ingredients.
I have heard this before, in a Westernized version. Once I read about someone, maybe it was James Beard, I have no memory of who it was, but they said that the most accurate measure of a chef’s greatness was not in what he could do with something fancy, but what he could do with something simple, like a potato.
Which of course, is sort of a root, although perhaps a tuber expresses something different. I just learned that the Spanish, upon discovering potatoes in the new world, brought them back to Europe thinking they had stumbled upon a new kind of truffle! Amazing! We are not India, and potatoes are not truffles. Bless their hearts.
Speaking of potatoes, I do miss them. In all of their many splintered glory, most especially, as French fries. Or crunchy. Or smushed. Or chipper. I’ll have to ask Mr. Wu his thoughts on the potato.
Perhaps the Master of Roots can expound upon the apple of the ground.