finally after a week of cultivating my sourdough starter, i'm finally making the bread. i followed a new york times no-knead sourdough recipe: 3-1/2 cup of unbleached bread flour, 1 tsp kosher salt, 3/4 cup of sourdough starter, 1-1/4 cup of room temperature water. the recipe actually asked for lukewarm, but i felt lazy and wasn't in the mood to heat up the water in the microwave. the water was used to turn the gooey sourdough starter into a slurry before mixing it with the flour and salt. i used my starter from the pyrex bowl, which didn't seem to have as many bubbles as the starter in the jar, but when i went to scoop it out, it was very fluffy and light, inflated by all the yeast activity. as for the leftover starter, i moved it so it too can live in a jar, combined with a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to feed.
i was going to have dinner at my parents' place tonight before returning to cambridge to go to the taiwanese chorus concert with jack. but with a forecast of possible intense showers right during the time i was coming back, i didn't want to risk getting soaked, so my mother said i should just stay home instead, but come to the cafe to get some chinese mantou tacos and help them rewrite the illuminated sushi sign.
the illuminated sushi sign used to hang vertically, but my sister told my parents to hang it horizontally from the wall. i thought it was a terrible idea and fought it all the way, until my father put it on top of the cabinet and it fit in the corner perfectly. as for the sign itself, i wrote the original sign. originally it had just 4 items, but in 2012 they expanded their sushi menu to 16 items.
back when the sign was vertical and hung lower to the ground, it was easy to read with regular writing. but now suspended nearly overhead, i needed a "font" that can stand out more. i ended up going with an outline text, almost like graffiti writing. the sushi menu has been reduced to 11 items, which allowed me to create a dozen grid (one for the "sushi" title). it came out much better than i expected, which really surprised me. i didn't even have the problem i normally do when i write signs, which is my writing gets progressively smaller, or the margin begins to slant (i did run into that problem with the "sushi" title; ended up doing it twice more before i got it to the way i liked).
i left around 4pm. there was already a light drizzle, which was the thing i was trying to avoid. it only last for a very short period, and stopped by the time i got home. i went out to wipe down the motorcycle and after the engine properly cooled i covered the bike. feeling hungry, i ate 2 of the chinese mantou tacos my mother gave me.
i tried to find a non-wrinkled shirt before jack showed up at 7pm. i even went as far as ironing a shirt, but the iron for whatever reason wasn't hot enough and kept dribbling out water (i found out later it was on the acrylic setting when i thought it was on cotton). finally i pulled a fresh shirt from the closet.
jack was arriving after work, so he was in a suit. we walked from my place to the cambridge first church close to harvard square. his wife phoebe was performing with the MIT-CCCS (MIT cambridge chinese choral society), something she does on the side. she performs a few times a year, and jack has probably gone to enough of them to be jaded at this point. in fact, he originally wasn't even going to come, and was only coming because i could go. it was chinese choral music, between the MIT-CCCS and another group called voice of taiwan. just warned me ahead of time that there would be songs sung in taiwanese and music about taiwanese independence.
phoebe's group the MIT-CCCS performed first. jack and i sat in the front row to the right of the stage (nobody was sitting there, most people probably thought it was reserved seating). unfortunately we sat on the side opposite where phoebe was standing, so she was on the other end from us. they performed 6 songs, all in mandarin as far as i could tell. there were even a few non-chinese singers in the group (although they can probably speak chinese).
there was a program guide but it was in chinese. i wouldn't know the purpose of the singing until midway in the performance, during a short break after the MIT-CCCS had finished their set. since we sat in the very front row, an old taiwanese man approached jack and i and began chatting. he asked us how long we've been in the US. that's a question i never get tired of answering, because very few chinese/taiwanese immigrants have been here as long as i have (1980). jack was chatting with this man, and suddenly became very animated because apparently he was somebody famous. turns out it was michael tsai, a retired pro-independence taiwanese politician. from what little i picked up, he was in town to lead a delegation of singers this saturday to perform in front of the UN in new york to protest taiwan's lack of sovereign recognition in the UN body. that's why they were all wearing these green vests of the taiwan united nations alliance. afterwards jack googled michael tsai and showed me his biography, as well as to some friends sitting a few rows back from us. tsai is in fact the president of TUNA.
when the voice of taiwan choir group entered the stage, you could tell right away they were a more professional singing troupe: the men wore tuxedos while the women had matching deep blue dresses. these were the singers that'd be staging the united nations protest come this weekend. their set list contained 9 songs, including some in taiwanese and possibly hakka as well.
most of the songs (regardless of which singing groups) i could only pick out a few words, i'm pretty terrible when it comes to deciphering chinese song lyrics. the voice of taiwan singers kept rearranging themselves depending on which song they were performing. one woman in particular was so loud that her voice stood out from the rest of her choir members.
after it was over, phoebe went to go mingle with friends, which jack and i walked back to the house to retrieve his car. i finally gave him the bag of hainan candy, as he left to go back to the church to pick up his wife.
cristina was home, jokingly asking me where i'd been and that she was worried. by then it was close to 10pm. i ended up eating the other two chinese mantou tacos for dinner.