The Cleaver Quarterly is a delightful, scrappy magazine devoted to Chinese food, a cuisine that “at any given moment, more people on Earth are eating... than anything else.” What I love about CQ is the realization that a subject I thought I knew much about was, in fact, a subject I knew little about.
One particular topic I never bothered to investigate was the impenetrable world of Chinese vegetables. I can picture it now: Standing there at the Chinese grocer, a spread of celtuce, tatsoi, and mountain yam before me, and I having only vague notions about what they are and what they taste like.
The Cleaver Quarterly has done the world a valuable service with its Vegetables of China trading cards ($15), a gorgeously illustrated and informative set detailing 52 of the country’s most important produce. Each matte laminated card features tips for cooking, selection, and storage, and there is of course Chinese and English text eliminating language barriers you may encounter at the store. Bonus cards include tutorials on cutting techniques, and one called “How to combine ingredients” which may be one of the smartest, pithiest explainers of the Chinese cooking ethos I’ve read yet.
I’ll give this my highest praise: damn, I really wish I had thought of this.