How to Start a “Fast” Food Blog on WordPress

Food blogging has done a great favor to discourage eating fast food. Dispite the slower pace of life in cooking delicious meals, we need our websites to work fast. Even if just blogging for fun, there are so many ways to monetize a blog that it’s hard to pass on. In fact, some of the most successfull food bloggers started by just doing something they loved. But this passion is not always enough to succeed or even to get visitors to enjoy your recipes. Nowadays one needs to think about all those techy concepts of search engine optimization, site performance and speed, optimized lead conversions and much more!

Typewriter in the Kitchen

No one likes a slow websites, and even though the well known WordPress blogging platform is extremely easy to use, it tends to get bulky and many of the cheap web hosting plans are just not optimized for speed. When one does something with passion such as blogging, it’s essential that everything works smoothly and easily. But don’t take my word for it and read this excellent “HostGator WordPress Hosting Review” that explains just how easily and mostly importantly why dedicated WP hosting is a must for anyone serious about blogging.

Yes, with HostGator you will be paying premium. However compared to other dedicated WordPress Hosting plans, it is not only one of the more affordable. It is also one of the easiest, quickest ways to get up and going with your shiny new blogging platform. Domains are included of course, and with an automatically managed system.. it’s the most worry free option so that you can concentrate on what you know best: food blogging. Also what you get, is plenty of save (in fact unlimited) for saving all the many photos of your recipes and food that you will most probably want to show to your readers. Amongst all the types of blogs out there, ones related to food are the most picture consuming. It is in fact, one of the key successes of running such a blog. With your readers scanning through hundreds of photos, they want them to load as quickly as possible. It can be just one photo out of a hundred, that captivates a visitor to try out one of the recipes. This promotes user engagement which will increase the chances of this person coming back to your site for more. And that’s how it all works, together with Social Media. Great content is the idea behind Google on how to make a website successful.

Starting a blog is always exciting and from my experience HostGator has been one of the fastest experiences for both, the beginner blogger as well as the visitor loading the page of course. Read the review I linked to above and tell me what you think, are you ready to start food blogging with excitement?!

Greetings from the delicious land of China,
Nuo Min

Italian & Chinese Fusion Cooking with Amazon Italy Books

Our food and recipe adventures take us sometimes to the most unknown and unexpected places. Largely thanks to the “traveling mind” that we have grown so accustomed to. If you are not sure what you mean, try trecking around the world in at least ten countries and get to know the local people. Your mind will be changed for ever, and your taste for food will take on an international aspect that can see things from a totally new light. At least, that’s what happened to us. That, which in fact has enable us to embrace everything that’s new and inspiring. And if one culinary gendre belongs to this exciting group, it is the term fusion cooking!

Italian Tomatoes

Another thing that’s important to note, is that not all fusion is good. Especially failure is present in food where there is a lack of true culture knowledge. You can see that all over China, because most people who open up restaurants either have never travelled or lack a profound experience of food travel. While I am in no ways wanting to put myself higher than other people, it is simply a true fact that having travelled in a way that connects with a local way of life is far superior. There are many stories to be told, but one experience that is sort of fundamental in the journey that started for me in terms of understanding food culture is Italy. One might think that Chinese and Italian cooking are far apart, but all it takes is an old and historical piece of culture and undoutedly you can connect it with many corners of the world.

Then there are those who speak only of experience, which is another misunderstanding in our opinion. I have not just travelled, experienced and cooked to make it this far. One of the most important parts of becoming a truly good cheff that is able to transfor recipies in a novel and fusion filled way.. is reading books of course. There is a mountain of great literature just waiting to be picked and absorbed. Each writing will add to the total sum of infinate possibilities. It is reading, that will never stop and I have to say a huge thanks to Amazon for providing such an amazing selection of rare books that have made my life so much better over the many years of being a professional. For those who are not that familiar with Italian cooking, or cannot afford to travel there for extended periods of time. Again, books come in as the second best tool and friend in getting closed to the culture experience. And for that I cannot recommend enough the wonderful collection at Amazon Italy, which is far more superior than the one in the American Amazon store for example. There is a new Chinese e-commerce platform as well I have heard, but we haven’t had the opportunity to try it out as of yet.

The first shock that might come to you as you enter the Amazon store, is that the whole website is in Italian. But don’t worry, this is only a minor obstacle! And in fact, there are many books in English as well as there is a very good article about how to access Amazon Italy in English which is extremely helpful. I have used this article many times, and they show you different ways to do it for both Mac, and Windows users with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. It’s also good to know, that the helpdesk can speak very good English in case you have any problems ordering books from there.

To get you started and to enjoy good old memories of brilliant Italian recipe and cooking books that have helped to create my China/Italian fusion creations.. I am revealing the list of my best known books with a short description. So please, enjoy the world of Italian cooking together with Amazon.

The Definitive Professional Guide to Italian Ingredients and Cooking Techniques
Written by Carla Capalbo, Kate Whiteman & Jeni Wright.

For me, this is like the bible of Italian cooking bookings. Because it give syou the most extensive knowledge on the very fundamental basics that consists of 320 recipes and their unique techniques which can be applied to a huge number of other Italian cookings. If you can master this book, your knowledge is ready to go to the most ultimate level of being a professional, artist in a sense. These techniques cannot be missed, get this book if you are passionate about Italy.

La Cucina Italiana Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking

This is the second most important “bible” of sorts. It contains all the vital Italian cooking ingredients in beautiful pictures as well as tremendously accurate descriptions. I have never seen this level of detail and beauty put into a book that covers every possible ingredient that is put into conventional Italian food. This English language book (dispite it’s Italian language title) is a pure pleasure, and I could only find it from Amazon Italy!

Vegetarian cooking. 100 easy italian recipes
Written by Academia Barilla

This is no ordinary cooking recipe book. In my opinion it teaches a vital lession about how most of Italian food is traditionally vegetarian. Meaning, that if you cannot make amazing Italian dishes with only vegetables, you know nothing about the food culture there. Only once that is mastered, you are able to add meat and fish to the food. So don’t miss on this vital information if you want to get up and close with the cultural aspects.

So there you go. I decided to limit this list to three, to encourage concentration and dedication. That, along with excellent quality ingredients is something that can never stop you. Perhaps in the future, I will explain more in detail about my Chinese Italian creations. But for now, let’s get busy traveling to the cultural world of food. Thank you!

Nuo Min, Chinese Foods Recipes

Amazing Recipe in Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

This spectacular dinner show blends a recipe of historical tradition; rich, colourful entertainment; and exemplary cuisine. Located in central Xi-an, about 2 kilometres from the Bell Tower, the Tang Dynasty Show is a must see for visitors to the city. Many overseas visitors highlight the evening as the best experience during their trip, unsurprising then that 5.5 million guests have enjoyed the show and food since its debut in 1988.

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show in Xian

For those who want to know more, please check out the Tang Dynasty Restaurant homepage or please read on so we can make sure you will be hooked! :)

History

Xi-an has long been known for the rich history of its 13 dynasties since 1067BC. Home of the terracotta warriors, and thousands of ancient tombs and ruins, Xi-an is the best place to see this dazzling showcase of Chinese history.

The Tang Dynasty ruled over China between the years 618 to 907 AD. At the time it was one of the largest cities in the world, rivalling Constantinople (Istanbul) and Baghdad. It was a time of wealth and affluence in China.

Tang music and dance blends traditional dance cultures from past dynasties, with other cultures that wandered into Xi-an down the Silk Road. The new and open Tang Dynasty was the most progressive and prosperous in terms of Chinese music, arts and dance. Wonderful staging and lighting effects transport guests back to this prosperous time in China’s history, where Xi-an’s ancient art-form comes to life.

Dinner Restaurant

The Dynasty Dinner is created by one of China’s greatest chefs, Mr. Sang Hua Rung. Served an hour before the show starts, and accompanied by a band playing traditional music on stage, the meal is a truly sumptuous experience in a unique restaurant retting.

The menu includes delights fit for royalty, with delights such as The Royal Marriage: a black mushroom consume; The Heart of the Dragon: crispy king prawns with honey glazed cashew nuts, and The Princess’s Pin: a beef fillet in sweet and sour sauce. A starter, after dinner sweets and jasmine tea are also provided at the prestigious Chinese restaurant.

You may also choose the dumpling banquet, during which you try 20 different varieties of freshly made dumplings, including chicken, pork, prawn, abalone, beef, pickle, walnut and many others. The meal comes with beer and rice wine. For this meal you will dine in another restaurant and then move to the theatre afterwards for the show.

The Show

Folk dances originated from dance and music rituals, performed to appease the gods and goddesses, and to ask them for a good harvest or a better life. Tang musical instruments include bells, drums and zithers (a type of harp with a box body), to emphasise connection to the gods. 30 master musicians play various traditional instruments to give the most accurate rendition of life during China’s ‘golden age.’

104 highly gifted and rigorously trained dancers and artists grace the stage, thoroughly learned in the history of the period. Preparation began four years before opening, to ensure perfection at every level. The enticing acts include the White Ramie Cloth Costume Dance: a flowing cloth invented by the Chinese 1,500 years ago; The Da Nuo: a masked dance performed every New Year’s Eve to expel ghosts; and The Warrior Dance: composed by Emperor Li Shimin, who was Emperor of Tang 627-649, to express the powerful and forceful spirit of his troops.

These are a few examples of the eight different acts that will thrill and excite you throughout the hour long show. And you get to enjoy it all while sipping champagne!

Things to know

You may see reviews of this show stating that people are unsure how authentic it is, but it has been recommended by people from UNESCO, who should know what they are talking about!

There is no dress code as such to the show, but as it is a classy experience you may feel out of place if you turn up in shorts and flip flops!

There are three different options to the show: Dynasty Banquet and Show; Dumpling Banquet and Show; and Champagne Show. Most tour operators will sell you the Dumpling Banquet and Show, which is fantastic, but just be aware there are other choices.

This show truly has something for everyone, so go and enjoy this unique recipe to a successful trip to magical the city of Chinese delicacies, with both an amazing show and restaurant experience combined. Only in the mystic capital of Xian, China!

Ways to Kick Back and Relax with a Show in Beijing

According to Chinese food tradition, one must keep balance of the yin and yang in order to live in a healthy way. While many might have forgotten some of the most important rules of the whole concept itself, most people try to at least in some way to keep balance. Because imbalance is the cause of many sicknesses, or at least that is widely believed within China.

Beijing Acrobatics

Unfortunately food is not always to most clean thing in the country, with lots of problems with hygiene. That’s why even if you would get a balanced diet of meat and vegetables, if you are not eating clean food than you might get of course sick anyway.

But food is not the only way to seek the balance of yin & yang in China and there are plenty of other factors that are involved. Just the modern culture only partly concentrates on the food issue, but a balance in life is not just diet. For example, it’s important to have a good balance between work and free time. This of course has been largely forgotten by the hard working population that often enough has no choice over their freedom. Having that precious time has been a luxury of westerns, but little by little the Chinese too are getting to enjoy what is called a holiday.

That’s why we have seen a huge increase in theatre and show venues all over the country. Especially in Beijing, people gather from all over the country to see famous shows such as the Beijing acrobatics show that is probably one of the favorites in the whole city. We previously reviews one of the acrobatic dinner shows in Chaoyang Theatre which is still one of our favorite past times and ways to enjoy Chinese food. There is just something magical with the combination of terrific food and acrobatics. Not that we were even interested in it first, but having tried it you are soon to be hooked in the experience!

Getting back to the topic of Ying & Yang, this really is a great way to seek balance with work life. Nowadays the theatre has been crowded with Chinese who have a little extra time and money to spend. The tickets are still not expensive, with discount ticket booking readily available. This is the case with many other shows in Beijing and the rest of the China too. It makes us wonder if Mao initially intended for these theaters to flourish for the health of the nation, but I can say that it’s working in that direction for sure. Once, when we were visiting the acrobats show, some foreigners that we met with had come to Beijing to seek some kind of a peace of mind from their work lives. I was quite amused to realise the the westerns were pretty much on the same level with the locals, trying to seek a balance in a healthy mind. How performing arts came to be one of the strongest link between food and mental health, that is an interesting question to answer. But in the meanwhile, we’ll just enjoy the spectacle and take the most of it. You should too. Just head to the Hujialou Station in Beijing and look for exit C. Grab a ticket from the nearby box office and your set for an experience of your life!

Show greetings,
Nuo Min

Chinese Food & Spicy Spirit

When someone says that Chinese food is spicy, that could mean anything. Depending on the part of China the level of spicyness varies, a lot! But basically if you are talking the spicy talk in relation to the red nation, you are mostly refering to the area of Sichuan.

Local Chinese Restaurant

Sichuan cuisine can be extremely spicy, but again for those who don’t know. Sichuan cuisine also includes a lot of non-spicy dishes. Just that the ones that happen to be, are well know througout the country as well as abroad. And they happen to be pretty damn spicy if cooked well!

But it’s no meal for Masochists, especially as most Chinese food is not that spicy compared to other chili-loving countries. Such as Mexico for example. But there is really something about Sichuan which extends in arms to build the spirit and guts of the whole nation. Which is far from the Buddhist vegetarian style for example, that is also famous from Sichuan. Spicy food is more of an attitude in China and depending on your feelings you choose more or less spicy dishes. While there might be as many tendencies as there are Chinese families, the bottom line is that too much of one style is no good. It will cause an imbalance of the “Yin & Yang”, which will lead to inner fire as they call it. So inorder to enjoy spicy food, you need to eat mild food. To eat meat, you need to eat vegetables. That is the circle of life and the spirit of being spicy is well included in this delicious mix of overwhelming the senses.

Of course if you sit down with a group of Chinese people and especially if they are drunk.. some will play with you and try to test you how you can handle a spicy dish. But not to worry, the vegetables and mild food will come to respect the health of a well balanced combination. What you should be more worried of however, is alcohol but that’s another story for another post.

Last but not least, I will leave you with some of our favourite Sichuan dishes. Like Mapo Tofu, Sichuan hotpot and Dan dan noodles! Just to say those names is making my mouth water.. so better stop there and challenge anyone to actually go to Chengdu yourself and test it out for yourself. You’ll be pleasently surprised for sure!

Crazy Night of Out with Meat and Panda Theater in Beijing

Eating is best at it’s most social and it’s most exiting form. We set out to test those limits in the city of Beijing. There was quite a big group of us, and we ate just about anything the crossed our path. While we are always on the lookout for new recipe ideas, this time it was much more than that. And to get us into the mood, we decided on some quality entertainment in the form of Pandas. Not just because you cannot eat them, but we thought that an exiting action packed Kung Fu show is just what we need to get out mood going for the night.

Shichahai Theater in Beijing

So no longer than soon, we set out to witness this performance spectacle in Shichahai Theater which more than lived up to our expectations. I would like to add, that there are loads of shows in the city. Including that of the Red Theatre in Beijing, but we were extremely positively surprised about this particular performance. Not only was it furry and cute, but also a really classy act that made us not just giggle but go “whooooa”. Before long, the show was over the we were stuck to our seats for some time. It was then that we decided to venture out of the theater and into the real world, without panda galore.

But perhaps or perhaps not because of the effect of the show and the Shichahai neighbourhood, we did decided to go and look for some meat. And meat we found, all kinds with lots of fragrance and variety to choose from. To do a bit of experimenting, with the help of tsingtao beer we ordered a plate of frogs to start with. Later we moved on to donkeys and such. Might sound wild, but we did not dare to go till dogs. In stead, we had a moderately wild dinner with all kinds of exotic meat. But what we have found, is that opposite to the regular meat products such as cows and pigs that often end up in our recipes. The more rare types are much more lean and have been even grown in more humane conditions. There is a lot to taste in China and going wild with a help of a few beers and a kung fu show will definitely hit the spot. Highly recommended! Not just the meat but the Shichahai Theater show as well!

Engrish in Chinese Menus

The term “Engrish” is known mostly from Japan. Where the letters r and l are pronounced the same, having difficulty seeing the difference.. as well as confusing the two a lot.

Weird Menu in China

However the term “Engrish” has been taken well into use in all Asian countries.. simply to significy English text that is incorrect.. and funny as well.

Chinese Menu Engrish

In China there are not that many English texts as in Japan for example, so the laughs are not that plentiful. However one place where you are sure to get some good laughs are Chinese menus. The translations of foods from Chinese to English are often simply hilarious.

I recently ventured into a Korean restaurant in Shanghai and could not help but order a dish of “Extreme fat spicy fragrance face cattle”. Just seeing the name, I had to order it! It was a bowl of beef, noodles and some vegetables.. in hot soup. It still remains a mystery where this term “face” comes from.. I see it every known and then.. “face this.. and face that..” without actually seeing and faces! :)

If you do know the origin of that Engrish translation, do let me know in the comments below. Thank you!

Best of Beijing: Eating at Night

Eating out in the Beijing Nightlife is one of the most thrilling experiences in China. In the main parts of the city, you have plenty of delicious restaurants that operate all night. Although sometimes you might have to wake up the people working there, they are happy that customers visit as it does increase their income. So it’s nothing to feel bad about, instead this difference in culture is definitely meant to be enjoyed!

Nightlife in Beijing

Besides interesting yet, good service.. eating out in Beijing is extremely cheap. It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day the price will be the same. You can get anything from fresh seafood to stakes and a huge variety of vegetables dishes. The idea is, that you start with beers that you first check if they are properly cold or not. After the waitress has picked the coldest beers in the house for you.. you can start to order.

Choose a variety of dishes, vegetables, fish, meat.. to make sure your ying and yan are in order for the night. What’s the most fun is that you share all the plates that just keep coming to the table. Without having to worry about the bill.

So if you are out in Beijing, make sure you get responsibility drunk and try out the night menu! You might want to skip the Karaoke. But that’s just up to personal taste isn’t it!

Daily Chinese Food Habits

The importance of Chinese dining habbits lies in regularity and orderliness. One must be strict about their eating schedule in order to stay healthy. Besides this, the social aspect of dining is extremely important. Actually you can rearly see a Chinese person eating outside by themselves. This is not because all Chinese eat with others, but because eating alone is considered so unusual that these people prefer to order home deliver or cook by themselves.

Asian Style Restaurant

Talking at the dinner table, with a loud voice is completely normal and considered polite to engadge in conversation in this way. This and the fact that a Chinese dinner table consists of several different dishes uses a lot of time. The Chinese are acustomed to eat a appetizers, main dishes and soups. Most of the dishes are shared with everyone.

Also it is common not to drink while you eat. Unless you are drinking beer it’s a different story, or also drinking soup can replace drinks. Also cold drinks are often avoided and your beer might come to you warm if you are not careful. Remember to ask for it every time you order. Cold drinks are considered unhealthy, which is true dispite their good taste. This is why don’t be surpriced if you see a Chinese person drinking hot water without any tea leaves.

Four Groups of Chinese Dishes

Chinese food is very flexible and it’s even often possible to make a custom order at a restaurant. Also they understand that some people do not eat meat.. for ethnical, religious or health reasons. But the Chinese do love their meat, for example pork, fish, dog meat and even snakes are very popular. Other less popular meat dishes are scorpions, insects and other exotic animals which are most eaten in the South of China.

Chinese Dishes

The variety of Chinese dishes is vast, but you can roughly group them into four main groups according to the air directions.

The Northern kitchen has plenty of weat products such as noodles, buns and bread. Spices are not used as much as in other parts of the country.

If you go to the East, you will find out that a lot of seafood is cooked there. The food is skillfully prepared and often steamed, bringing out the health affects and the pure taste of good ingredients. A popular charactaristic to a dinner table in the east is that the variety of plates on the table are plentiful. Also they are not hesitant to try new things.

In the South, the Yue Chinese use plenty of vegetables, fish and shellfishes.. but spices are mild. Rise is being eaten every day, unlike the north where bread often is replaced by rice.

The Western kitchen in China uses a lot of chili and other spicies such as pepper and ginger. Tofu is extremely popular here as well. The famous “Mapo Tofu” is an extremely spicy tofu plate.