When I was still in my early twenties, my beloved high school English teacher, Martha Alexander, surprised me with a Szechuan cookbook. She used to entertain me to dinner nearly every week — sometimes she made recipes she had loved for years, sometimes I tried new ones on her — neither of us quite discussing the likelihood that, if she didn’t find someone to dine with her every few nights, she might just live on bourbon without eating at all.
I made the recipes for a long time, until an emotional shock involving a cat and a squirrel confirmed me as a vegetarian and left me scratching for culinary resources for a while. Lately, I find that some of the faux meats on the market answer quite adequately to the demands of recipes which instruct you to mince or julienne the meat in the first place, then marinate it in seasonings so robust that you have to open the windows before starting to cook.
My Cute Engineer has never met a noodle he would throw out of bed, so I have been making Ants Climb A Tree a good deal recently.
Click to biggify. It is one of those repasts that hugs the heart and forgives the sins of the weary and laboring muscle. I can understand why peasants and farmers created it.