Sunday, September 14, 2008

Surviving China

Ever been to China? Me neither before now. I have been in Nanjing, China for the past 10 days (courtesy of my crazy corporate job) and it has been most interesting (as my Chinese cohorts would say). The traditional architechture and all the history pleases me to no end...and so does much of the food. But then, well, there is the traditional toilet and the traditional foods that leave something (like a toilet seat and stool) to be desired.
For instance, let me share the list of traditional chinese foods I have been served up this week:
  • pigs' feet
  • frogs bodies
  • duck soup--with the whole damn duck, including head with bill, bathing in the broth
  • duck's tongue (a whole little dish of the things--pickled, no less)
  • stewed eel (whole foot long ropes of 'em)
  • roasted pigeon (again, complete with little pigeon heads and beaks pointed skyward like they were in the process of praying to the heavens for reprieve from the oven just before death--and as my Juni told me when I told him about pigeon being on last night's dinner menu: "Mommy, it's not nice to cook pigeons.")
  • tree lichen
  • steamed crawfish from the Yangzte
  • black chicken feet
  • and my personal fave which I had the priviledge of eating since I was the honored guest at dinner: fish lung (and not from a little fish--from a big ol' neolithic looking fish with teeth--it was plucked whole from the fish with chopsticks and dropped on my plate with a smile)

I also saw cow's penis (yep) at the grocery store, so am feeling relatively lucky none of that showed up on my plate. But I have also found I like dried and candied rose petals, moon cakes, mountain mushrooms, fried fermented bean curd, and nothing beats the dumplings here.

Nanjing is interesting too. At night it feels very much like you are in a scene from Blade Runner with the moon glowing weakly through the smog, the office buildings climbing skyward, and neon blasting everywhere (where are all the replicants, anyway?)...

...and during the day, it is capitalism collides with the third world.
But there is loads of history here: A confuscian temple that served as a school to his scholars back in the day, Ming palace ruins and tombs, buddhist monasteries that are a bazillion years old, and ancient city walls that served as fortress to the city. I will post more photos of those sites tomorrow...for now, I am going to take an hour of refuge in the local Starbucks, like the good American I am. Hey, I did the teahouse thing earlier today, so cut me some slack on the American coffeehouse...

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