Monday, March 02, 2015

Is Bigger Better?

Our relative Mac posted this picture on Facebook of a gigantic chayote he grew in his yard. I didn't know the Chinese call this Fo Shou (short version) or Buddha's hand. 

I thought Buddha's hand was the popular name for citron, which I grow.  I've also heard it called Buddha's fingers.  The fruit I grow looks like this: 

Last year, we visited the largest Buddha statue in China outside of Chengdu. You can see the resemblance between Mac's squash and this Buddha's hand.  

The trip from Chengdu 100 miles to Leshan to see the Big Buddha was big alright - a big waste of time. It took us all day to get there and back by car, most of the time spent sitting in traffic. When we finally arrived, we had to board a boat and float out in front of the statue where we idled for 10 minutes or so and then returned to the port. Two tiny nuns who were on the boat with us were positively transported by the sight and they were more entertaining to watch than the huge Buddha. "Tiny" was the size that won the day. 

Here's a photo of the whole Buddha. 

This is the big reclining Buddha in Yangon, Burma. Not a very attractive setting in a kind of warehouse, but it is big. 

Some temples claim to have the most's a typical array in Mandalay, Burma
These two are among the largest standing Buddhas and the largest reclining Buddhas in the world - they're in Burma just outside Monywa. These impressed me more than any I've seen before. 
 A repeat of the above with the standing Buddha alone. 
The Buddha in Thimpu, Bhutan is still under construction. Inside this statue, they plan to place 1,000,000 small Buddhas. 
Tiny Zuzu and big Buddha, Thimpu, Bhutan.

An interesting bit of information from Wiki on the mummification of bodies manifested in San Bernardo, Columbia which the locals attribute to a high consumption of chayote. This smacks (to cynical me) of propaganda from the Chayote Promotion Board. The mummies have become a tourist attraction. 

Driving 99 km. (three hours) out of Bogota to San Bernardo to see 14 mummies I'm guessing would be more even more disappointing than the ride to Leshan to see the Big Buddha. 

From Wikipedia re chayote:'

Due to its purported cell-regenerative properties, it is believed as a contemporary legend that this fruit caused the mummification of people from the Colombian town of San Bernardo who extensively consumed it. The very well preserved skin and flesh can be seen in the mummies today.

My Vietnamese friend Diep is writing a cookbook about N. Vietnamese cuisine. She grew up in Hanoi where they love chayote as a snack. Here's a sample recipe from her book...the introductory notes are mine. 

Serves 4

My friend Diep tells me that “In Hanoi we eat chayote with rice as a main meal or as a side dish for a larger meal. It also makes a very good snack.”

Excellent when sautéed with beef or pork with green onion, the gentle flavor is enhanced by fish sauce and garlic. The Vietnamese waste little in the kitchen. Diep says, “It’s a treat for me to drink the water left after boiling the chayote.”

Diep's Recipe for Chayote
1 medium chayote, washed, peeled and cored
1/2 carrot, washed, peeled and cut into small pieces or decorative shapes, about 1” each
Water sufficient to cover vegetables in a small saucepan
3 tablespoons sesame peanut dip or other dip of choice

Cut chayote into half lengthwise and then into thirds lengthwise to yield 12 pieces.
Bring the water to a boil. Add the vegetables and boil for three minutes until fork tender. Use a slotted spoon to drain vegetables. Arrange on plate. 
Serve warm, at room temperature or cold with dip

Diep’s Kitchen Notes
  • Be sure to core out any stringy tissue
  • To cut: For safety and stability while preparing, cut the chayote straight across stem end so that the squash can be stood on flat end. Cut in half through seed. Cut each half lengthwise into thirds or fourths. Remove seed and core.

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