when my mother was here earlier, she heard from her taiwanese acupuncturist that there was a taiwanese night market happening in chinatown today. i was intrigued and searched everywhere for info about this event but couldn't find anything, even going as far as going to the taipei economic and cultural office twitter account for boston to see if they had anything. finally i found it on thebostoncalender.com, said it was from 5-9pm, enough time for me to go after dinner at my parents' place.
we closed the cafe at 4pm and i left for belmont by 4:30pm. i went to do a quick backyard inspection and was shocked to see several caged eggplants and peppers utterly defoliated by rabbits. they don't seem to bother with the squash seedlings, but eggplants, peppers, hollyhocks, and bean sprouts, they eat them all. at this point it's too late too do anything. could i restart some pepper and eggplant seedlings? maybe. the bigger lose are the long bean plants, of which we used up all our seeds. we still might get a few plants to survive, but i don't know if it'll be enough to eat, we may have to let all the beans go to seeds so we can have enough to plant for next season. but definitely next year we'll need to cage all our raised beds and anywhere else where we might be growing vegetables. this was going to be a banner year for us, with all the chicken manure we added to the beds since last fall, but we weren't expecting this rabbit population to totally decimate our garden.
it's not all bad news in the garden. the squashes in raised beds are doing very well (since rabbits don't seem to eat them, at least so far), particularly the few in RB1. my father trained them to grow on bamboo stakes and now they're really taking off. having them trained upwards also allows me easy access to the stems and leaves, to check for vine borer eggs, which i found a few.
a lot of new flowers have also blossomed. red hollyhocks in RB0, the bed of rudbeckias in RB3, and some cherokee sunset rudbeckias in the western perennial bed. the two gardenia flower buds continue to swell, they're at a point where they might burst open any day now. but even then it's not guaranteed they'll blossom, we had the same thing happen last season, and most of the flower buds ended up just falling off, even the ones that looked like they were a day away from opening.
i bought a package of revivex odor eliminator last week and finally got around to mixing a solution of the stuff to spray inside some stinky hiking shoes i brought over. the packaging is kind of subdued, but it comes highly recommended as the only thing that will take the stink out of outdoor gear. the instruction said to mix 15ml with 12 oz. of water. the small spray bottle i had could only fit 8 oz. of water, so i reduced the concentrated odor eliminator amount to 10ml. i then gathered all the stinky shoes outside - mine and my parents' - and sprayed the inside of the shoes with the solution. i then left the shoes outside in the sun to air dry. we'll see if it works or not tomorrow.
my sister brought home hailey, because she and her korean friend were going to harvard square to celebrate the pit-palooza. i made sure hailey saw my sister leave so she wouldn't get confused and try looking for her in the house afterwards. once she understood my sister was gone, hailey turned right away and went to hang out in the backyard.
my mother said she didn't want to cook tonight so we opted to get some takeout from nearby cafe vanak. i used seamless (grubhub's online pickup subsidiary) to order. we basically got the same thing that first time my father and i ordered: dill rice & lamb shank ($20), beef koobideh plate ($18). my mother also added an eggplant mix ($9) as an appetizer. the wait was 40-50 minutes, but fortunately we ordered around 5:30pm.
around 6:15pm by father and i drove up to cafe vanak. i didn't get any alerts telling me my order was ready, but time was already up. they couldn't find my order at first because i only gave them my last name; apparently the ordered are sorted by first name, so they were finally able to find it. i also ordered a container of saffron-scented chai seeds juice ($7).
when we brought it back home, my mother was disappointed with the small portion size of the eggplant mix, which looked ready-made and the only thing they did was to reheat it. it didn't come with any bread but luckily my mother had some leftover pita from 2 weeks ago when we toured all those watertown middle eastern markets. overall, she seemed underwhelmed with the food. the only thing she seemed to like was the grilled tomato-pepper-onion from the koobideh plate. but the more she ate, the more the persian flavors started to grow on her. originally she said the dill rice was bland, but once she got to the bottom and drizzled in the lamb juice, it got tastier. as for the drink, i couldn't taste the saffron, but it had a very fragrant aroma, like maybe they added rose-water. the chai seeds are like natural boba - tiny slimy droplets - and were fun to drink down.
i left by 7pm, since i had to get home first before riding my bicycle down to chinatown to see the taiwanese night market. taking the motorcycle would be quicker, but i didn't want to deal with trying to find a free parking space (even though it's a lot easier on a motorcycle than it'd be in a car). i got back home by 7:15pm, and left 15 minutes later around 7:30pm. i must've been pedalling like a maniac, because i managed to arrive in chinatown in just 21 minutes, the same amount of time had i gone via motorcycle.
the night market was happening in the park next to the chinatown gate. there were many asians there, i assumed most of them were taiwanese (does this sort of event appeal to mainland chinese people?). there wasn't really a night market vibe - for one thing it was still daylight. there were a few tables of taiwanese organizations, some traditional night market games (handmade pinball machines, carny games like throw rings onto bottles). some people were also selling chinese medicine and makeup. but the most important thing about night markets are the food, and there was just one food truck selling items that didn't seem taiwanese, and an actual taiwanese food vendor selling barbecued skewers. naturally all the people were lining up to get some of this barbecue action, the line was like 30-40 customers deep. there was also a band performing. i looped them the crowd twice, took some photos to send my mother, called her to say there wasn't anything interesting, and finally left 20 minutes later. apparently the father of their acupuncturist was in attendance, doing some kind of calligraphy demonstration, but i didn't see anyone doing that (he might've done it early, i might've just missed it).
it was 8:10pm by the time i started cycling back to cambridge. i put on my lights and strapped on my gopro camera. i decided to get home along the charles river bike path then over the mass ave bridge. since there was still time, i decided to take a detour to harvard square (straight down mass ave) to catch the tail end of the pit-palooza. my sister already texted me that it was really boring, and when i arrived by 8:45pm, i was able to confirm that for myself. cambridge is demolishing the pit and rebuilding the plaza (i'm guessing to make it more handicap-accessible). the pit was where all the alt-kids hung out, along with the drug users and homeless people. as a kid in the suburb who used to frequent harvard square in its haydays (back in the 80's and early 90's), i knew about the pit but none of my friends ever hung out there. if anything, the people who frequent the pit were a little scary. i'm not sure if its cause for celebration.
i finally got back home by 8:50pm. i took a well-deserved shower and relaxed with a cold can of hard cider while i watched the series finale of obi-wan kenobi.