BONUS EPISODE! In March 2018, Drew Vahrenkamp appeared on Stephanie Craig's History Fangirl podcast to discuss what was once the largest city on earth, in area at least: Angkor, Cambodia. For the upcoming holiday weekend in the US, we are honored to share this episode with you. Please check out more of Stephanie's interviews with travelers, historians, bloggers and podcasters at https://historyfangirl.com.
Angkor, along with its most famous temple Angkor Wat, is one of the most unique places in the world. The French claim to have discovered it when Cambodia was part of French Indochina, but like so many “lost” places the locals always knew about it. However, much of what we know about the ancient city comes from inscriptions and other artwork on the temple. And because the jungle climate much of the other information we have about the city may be lost forever, but we do know that it was the largest pre-industrial city in the history of the world.
My guest today is Drew Vahrenkamp of the Wonders of the World podcast. We chat about the ancient history of Angkor, how tourism in the city has changed dramatically over the last two decades, and how history lovers grapple with the ancient past of Cambodia, and the more recent reign of the Khmer Rouge.
Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, is justifiably famous for this dish, a delectable, spicy beef broth served over hand-pulled noodles, with layers of beef and daikon radish on top. Restaurants all over Gansu ladle out this dish as a pick-me-up breakfast.
You can’t make the real thing, because some of the actual ingredients are only available to restauranteurs in China and because hand-pulling noodles is incredibly challenging — they even have schools for it in Lanzhou.
So this is a legitimate home version from the terrific cookbook All Under Heaven.
Really exciting: it’s an excuse to use that InstantPot you got for the holidays and have been struggling to find uses for. Woot! You can do this without a pressure cooker, of course, but it will help to have one.
The challenge here is getting all the ingredients. It will be hard to do if you don’t have access to an Asian grocery.
One last note: this dish will taste much, much better if you let it rest for a day or so to let the flavors blend. Prepare it the day before you plan to serve it, then reheat on the stove.
As usual with red meat, I won’t get to make this at home, so if you can get the ingredients and try it out, please let me know!
Recipe adapted from All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China by Carolyn Phillips
Photo from user N509FZ on wikipedia
A great trade route connected China to the West: the Silk Road. No place in China better illustrates the value of that route than Dunhuang, site of the Mogao Caves, grottos carved into a cliffside which hold the largest collection of Buddhist art anywhere. In Gansu province, Dunhuang was the site of the Jade Gate, where the main road left China into the lands beyond.
Nathan Cherry of the Silk Road History Podcast helps tell the story of these caves, their city, and the route, starting with the expedition of Zhang Qian, China's Lewis (or maybe Clark?) who first traversed into the unknown.
More stories follow: the son of immigrants who translated the sutras, the daughter who went to war, the crown prince who saved countless artifacts.
The caves are remarkable; the town is too, nestled against giant sand dunes at the edge of the desert. To eat, try Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup, the perfect breakfast, if you like soup for breakfast - Westerners might find this a perfect dinner instead.
Keay, John. China: a History
Kwa, Shiamin and Wilt L. Idema. Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend, with Related Texts
Lagerwey, John and Lü Pengzhi, editors. Early Chinese religion. Part 2, The period of division (220-589 AD)
Lonely Planet China
Stephan, Annelisa. "14 Fascinating Facts about the Cave Temples of Dunhuang" from The Iris from the Getty Museum
The Dunhuang Academy's website (http://public.dha.ac.cn/)