As my friend Vivi puts it: “I like to think of the good times as ‘reality’ and everything else as a long drawn out practical joke gone wrong.” So let’s talk about the good times!
Woah, wait, I thought you were in small-town Handan…
I met a man who moved from China to live in Japan for ten years, who then returned to China and opened an authentic Japanese restaurant called Qin Ye Wu (sorry, I don’t even know the pinyin). Of the four languages I could have practiced, I got a chance to speak Japanese with someone in China. What! He is simply amazing! Even with Chinese and Japanese I couldn’t think of enough phrases to understand why he would do such a thing. Sideways, I’m really sucking at this whole language juggling thing.
Anyway, it’s interesting because his chefs make the sushi in a Western style, the popularized Nori style (smaller vinegar rice rolls with seaweed). If you’re a huge sushi or Japan fan like me (or you’re Japanese- よろしくお願いします読書のための!), you know sushi is eaten with the fingers, with the wasabi already placed inside the roll. Traditional etiquette is to eat the roll as the chef has prepared it, but I guess that’s the old way of thinking. Another cultural revolution, blegh.
Here are some of the other yum yums I’ve remembered to photo, based on a request from Ginger Mo.
This little tamale is called a Northern-style zongzi (粽子). I ate about 10 of these things on a day that Handan people celebrated one of their “zany” holidays. It’s difficult to know why I’m doing most things because of my lack of Chinese, but I try to fit in the best I can. “Nom nom nom.” They are awesome and healthy, but this particular one had a date nut and honey in the middle.
PAUSE. Grammar Girl, somebody help! After reviewing this, how can I correctly punctuate a translation of a plural item??? I think I did it correctly, but my nerd instincts gone CRAZAYYYYY. Okay, moving right along….
Shrimp hot pot is just a seafood base with all the essential hot pot stuff with shrimp, but it really is tasty. I love getting a fresh-pulled noodle that tastes like seafood. It’s an extremely foreign taste for me, and I really love it. Also, you can eat the shells of shrimp if you cook it a certain way. Did you know that? I didn’t! It’s a totally normal thing here! Just so you’ll know, back home people act like they’re straight up dying if they eat anything like that.
Despite everything I’ve tried, my favorite dish in China has remained Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁). It’s the perfect amount of sweet and spicy that we miss out on back home, but it’s the familiarity of sweetness that makes it a comfort food when I don’t feel like eating anything else. Woof, healthiness.
I wish I would have remembered to take pictures of all the cow tongue, chicken heart, duck neck, chicken feet, cicada (I actually like these) and other strange things I’ve eaten. I remember seeing people on horrible television show like “Fear Factor” throw up at the thought of eating something like that, and I think “What a bunch of whiny little prick ass bitches,” or something of the sort. I haven’t had the best time here, but these foods are delicious and I’m proud that the Chinese have allowed me to take part in eating them.
You just can’t get stuck thinking about something like a tongue licking you all the way down your intestines. (;