Saturday, April 9, 2011

Xan: Chianking Vinegar and the World's Longest Shortening

Today I made these Scallion Pancakes (from Serious Eats):

Needless to say they were delicious.  But that's not why I'm writing this.  I'm writing this because the dipping sauce...

...actually called for Chinkiang Vinegar.  "What is Chinkiang Vinegar and why should I care?" I hear you asking. And I didn't know or care either, until Tammy gave me some as a gift!

I occasionally splash it on vegetables, although until now I never actually saw a recipe that called for it.

Wait.  That's not true at all.  Actually, the vinegar came with some recipes, courtesy of Tammy.  I haven't made any of these but I just can't wait to share them with you!  Because...there's never been a better window into Tammy's brain: 

Now, I've seen tablespoon abbreviated as tbsp, tbs, tb, or even just T.  But for reasons that have only recently become clear to me, Tammy consistently abbreviates it as "tblespn."  Surely you are scratching your head, so let me explain:
  1. Abbreviations are supposed to be shortened versions of the original word which nevertheless retain enough of the original to remind us what they refer to.  
  2. The less you take away from the original word, the less room there is for confusion.
  3. Hypothesis: Could it then be that Tammy is just trying to compensate for being easily confused?  
  4. General empirical observations confirm that Tammy is, indeed, easily confused.  
  5. Furthermore, even restricting ourselves to this specific case, I refer you to Recipe #1. Indeed, Tammy seems to momentarily forget that "spn" is already an abbreviation of "spoon," indicating that even tblespn is not quite enough to forestall her confusion.
  6. The theory is confirmed, and I therefore recommend that in the future she use "tblespoon".
I am also slightly troubled by the idea that 2 tablespoons is a "splash" of vinegar.  But in any case, I encourage my readers to try these recipes out and report back here.  The idea of "crabby eggs" does not appeal to me, but I'm sure that's just a matter of personal preference.

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