Category Archives: Taste Of

These dates are all about dinner and a movie. We will eat a dish from a specific country and watch a classic movie from that culture.

Taste of China

Happy Chinese New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Monkey. For our second Taste Of, we’re enjoying some traditional Chinese food and a classic Kung Fu movie.

Amanda prepared a great start to our evening. While I was at work, she crafted some red and gold paper lanterns and hung them around our kitchen. When I got home, she started playing the album ‘Traditional Chinese Music’ from Amazon Prime and we set out to make some Chinese food. Our menu for the evening was steamed vegetable dumplings, fried rice, and for dessert, tangerines, which are supposed to bring good luck in the new year.

Steaming Dumplings

We bought a Black and Decker rice cooker a couple years ago because we got onto a kick of having rice with dinner. It had fallen into disuse over time and was stored alongside a number of other kitchen gadgets we’ve purchased over the years. Tonight, though, was its time to shine. Not only did it cook our rice, it also has a basket that we used to steam the dumplings. I cooked my white rice first while Amanda was prepping the dumplings, then while the dumplings were steaming, I fried the rice. The rice was done just as the dumplings finished, which was great timing. After our obligatory photos, our food was still hot as we sat down for our movie.

Steamed dumplings with fried rice

Out plates full of delicious Chinese food

Our classic Chinese movie for the night was The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. This movie is amazing. It was released in 1978 at the height of the popularity of Kung Fu movies, and ended up defining a lot of the genre. The main hero struggles against some oppressive ruler or tyrannical warlord, begins losing the struggle, and then learns Kung Fu to make the comeback at the end, all while finding inner peace. The movie stars Chia-Hui Liu as San Te, a legendary Shaolin master. As a college student, he is taught by a professor who sympathizes with the rebellion against the current occupation of their homeland. He gets involved with the rebellion, but is found out by the invaders, and is forced to flee. After a daring chase, he narrowly escapes, but not before being injured. He decides that he needs to learn Kung Fu to prepare himself to fight the invaders, so he starts heading to the Shaolin temple. Once there, he convinces the Shaolin monks to let him stay and train with them. The monks have 35 chambers set up at the monastery to train in Kung Fu. Most of the movie is San Te attempting to pass the individual chambers.

The movie has spectacular fight choreography. One of the most impressive scenes was when San Te was learning to use the staff and the instructor was using a long staff to train group of students in the proper form at the same time. That led to a synchronized staff fight. All of the fight scenes were incredibly well done.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is the first of four movies, the rest of which we will be watching ASAP. We looked up Chia-Hui Liu on IMDB and found that he has a long list of movies that we also now need to watch.

This is only our second Taste Of date, but we are extremely happy with the results so far. Even after we finish our year of date nights every night, we are planning to continue our monthly cultural experiences. We’ve learned a lot about cultures that we otherwise didn’t know much about.

Buy The 36th Chamber of Shaolin on Amazon
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin on IMDB
Buy a Black and Decker rice cooker from Amazon

Taste of Italy

We have a lot of date nights planned this year, but I think my favorite idea so far is the “Taste of” dates. These dates are going to have us eat a country-themed dinner and watch a classic movie from that culture. For today’s date, we’re having a Taste of Italy.


Italian food is a staple in our household, but we wanted something special to go with our movie, La Dolce Vita. Some quick research named the movie a great cinamatic experience. This kind of movie is something that we wouldn’t usually watch, but we’re trying new things this year.


Amanda made us a fantastic Italian dinner. The menu for the evening included food from all over the country of Italy. We started with bread dipped in olive oil and spiced salt, the way we learned when we visited Italy this past Fall. This was followed by a caprese salad made with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with basil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. For our main course, we had fettuccine done two ways, one with Alfredo sauce, and one with a butternut squash sauce. To complement dinner, Amanda made a cocktail of sparkling Moscato and San Pellegrino Pomegranate-Orange with a just a dash of limoncello and garnished with a lemon. Dessert was some store-bought Margherite cookies.


La Dolce Vita is a classic movie from 1960 following the character Marcello as he lives his life in Rome. The film making was astonishing, even today. There were so many scenes that stuck out, from the beginning with the statue of Christ the Labourer flying over Rome, to the giant dance party, to the iconic Trevi Fountain scene, to the crowd crushing in to get a piece of the tree where the Madonna “appeared”, and so many more. The movie was two and a half hours long and beautiful throughout.

One of the major things that caught our attention was the secondary character Paparazzo. He was a photographer that worked with Marcello as Marcello wrote about the celebrities around him. We heard Marcello say his name a few times before we realized it was actually his name. This movie brought the term “paparazzi” into our vernacular.

Have you seen a great Italian movie or had any good Italian good lately? Share your recommendations and recipes with us in the comments.