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Thursday, December 31, 2009

An element of dread

Time has gone by quickly, and my long year end vacation ends, seemingly abruptly. I have spent three days traveling, three days unpacking boxes in my new US base, two days getting ready for Christmas and two days getting ready to return to China. Few days relaxing. This time, return to China feels different. I don't want to go back.

I identify the feeling, hesitancy tinged with dread. Even with my short time off, I enjoyed good, healthy, safe food, sunshine and blue skies, clean air and happy polite people. I know, waiting for me in Shanghai, pollution, construction, cold grey skies and mountains of work. But the core is the food. Note the two pictures of what people would consider good food in respective locations. One is hairy crab, a fresh water crab, seasonal delicacy in Shanghai. It looks like its staring at me. The other is a plate of tex-mex style, lightly fried chicken breast, grilled green beans, twice fried potatoes and ripe, chopped roma tomatoes with ranch dressing on the side. Yum.

I am still not used to much about the Chinese style of eating. Much more emphasis on freshness, combined with overt acceptance of place in the food chain encourages closeness to the killing process, brutal and maybe cruel to Western eyes. Live fish brought to the table, still flapping, as proof of freshness. Creatures' whole bodies brought to the table to show the fresh kill.
I know I will frequent Wagas, Element Fresh, Gourmet Café, Whisk. Maybe by the end of the year I will want more feet, eyes and heads.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Xiuxi yi xia

You have been working hard, intellectually, physically and emotionally, all engines, all tanks are drained and in need of recharging, flux capacitors have been fluxed. Time to take a break. So you run out to the local DVD shop and buy a $1 DVD and duck through open, active construction areas that make crossing the street akin to Indiana Jones exiting a tomb, then duck out of the damp Shanghai chill into local convenience store for a bottle of $0.50 Tsing Tao. But what to your wondering eyes should appear but this little glass not of beer, for $0.75. Some bai jiu (an unappealling Chinese version of sake)...ALREADY IN THE GLASS! Nothing says class like buying bai jiu in a glass. Why isn’t this little marvel available in the US yet? Jim, Johnny, Malibu, Captain..I’m looking at you...我没有买了