What Is This, Exactly?

Hello! Some of you may remember me from my improbably domain-named expat blog, Ephemera And Detritus.


Since early 2010, I have been the gate keeper of A Totally Impractical Guide to Living in Shanghai. And, true to word, I have been of absolutely no use to anyone wanting to visit or attempt to settle down in Shanghai. Even if they could remember how to find my blog, they’d be unlikely to find anything of, well, practical use. Because that was never my intention.

This, however,  is different.

I’m here to unravel the mysteries of making non-Chinese food in China food other than that of the country where I’m living. Using only ingredients from my local grocery stores, wet market and side walk vendors. Because sometimes a girl just needs a break from chicken feet, dumplings, braised beef tendon, fatty pork and fungus.

Got a wok? Got a toaster oven? Got a rice cooker or crock pot? Got a dish sanitizer? Good.

Let’s eat.

Got any requests? Email me at koangirl (at) hotmail dot com

Fame and Fortune


MJs Kitchen put my focaccia in a great list of garlicky recipes! Honoured.


I done got nominated by the Unhip Squirrel, bless her heart.


Mentioned in the November issue of Shanghai Talk magazine (2011)

Next come the mansions and descent into cocaine madness!



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6 Comments Add yours

  1. geraldine says:

    it’s a little bit easier when living in big cities like shanghai or beijing, i imagine it would be frustratingly frustrating when living in small cities! great blog 🙂

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Thanks! It certainly is easier here in Shanghai, but I wanted to see if I could do this without resorting to the privilege/convenience granted to me by this city. After all, I’ve spent much of my adult life in cities where all these things weren’t available so I know how it feels to crave a taste of home….

  2. TracyAnn0312 says:

    I do agree with Geraldine. Living in the city is much better than living in barrios because all of the things you need in the city is available.
    TracyAnn0312 recently posted..לקות למידהMy Profile

  3. Jean says:

    Interesting a blog devoted to attempts to cook non-Chinese or non-Asian in China.

    May I polite suggest that a real grabber would be: how someone could re-invent non-Asian dishes with a Asian kick?

    What do you expect from someone like myself born in Canada and lived here all my life?
    Jean recently posted..Christmas Haiku MeditationsMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Hi! Thanks for your comment!

      As to your suggestion, I actually have done a number of reinvented non-Asian dishes with an Asian kick (like that Mexi-Thai chicken soup I made at one point, and the chapati tortillas, among other things). Mainly this blog was started for expats in China who were homesick and craving a little comfort food but who lacked access to it. I was trying to figure out how to make western things I liked using Chinese grocery store ingredients. I also had a series when I was back in Canada this summer where I tried to recreate some of my Chinese favourites. It’s all good!

      1. TracyAnn0312 says:

        Well it seems that all of the suggestions we gave gives you also wonderful idea in order to make your blog from it beautiful being.

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