The pomegranates here are yellow on the outside and pink on the inside. They are super cheap. Two of them cost less than 4 kuai at the supermarket (on sale). Eating a pomegranate can be awkward and messy if you don’t know what you’re doing. But once you got the hang of it, it is less messy, fun, and incredibly satisfying.
The easiest way to open a pomegranate: score along the equator with a paring knife. Use your hands to break the fruit apart. If it is ripe, it will be pretty easy to break. Then whack the heck out of each half with a wooden spoon over a large bowl. Seeds will fall out into the bowl. Pick out the white membrane. Eat the seeds by the handful. (Search Youtube for videos if you are a visual learners). Enjoy!
How to eat dragon fruit: cut off the top and bottom like you would a pineapple. Then cut into wedges. Skin will peel like a banana. Cost: 20 kuai for two.
Chinese brand kitchen tool: Smart Wife!
Chinese Báijiǔ (白酒)
Báijiǔ literally means “white alcohol.” It’s a super duper strong liquor. To me, it smells like rubbing alcohol, and tastes like it, too. However, báijiǔ is extremely popular here. Both men and women drink it, but more so the men. It shows strength and masculinity. During banquets, formal celebrations, báijiǔ will be there.
Most of time, báijiǔ is sold in clear glass bottle. However, this is the first time I encounter báijiǔ preserved in the traditional earthen jars. (Picture was taken at a restaurant in Pingliang). For the Vietnamese who are Hongkong drama addicts: the third one from the left is “nữ nhi hồng.”
Pingliang Apples (Píngliáng píngguǒ 平凉苹果)
These are special apples. I was told that Pingliang’s apples are famous in China. Yes, they are the best apples I’ve ever had in China, crisp and sweet, unlike the bland and powdery we had at hotel breakfast buffets. The kind that breaks apart when you bite into it. Cost to me 0. They were gifts from a fellow teacher. I ate one with the skin on. If I get sick, it would be almost worth it!
My makeshift Thai Pad-see-ew. Cost to make: probably less than 4 kuai.
I was looking forward to cook for myself again. But making something as simple as this required a lot of effort in small town China. The noodle is way chewier than the Thai variety. I don’t have any soy sauce or vinegar, so I used oyster sauce and sugar. I burnt some of the food while cooking it. It didn’t turn out too horrible, but of course nowhere near as good as the ones I made in the States.
Burning a simple stir fry is a good metaphor for my life right now. I hadn’t done it since my early teens, when I was still learning how to cook. With more than a decade of cooking experience, I know how to handle myself in the kitchen. Let’s correct that: I know how to handle myself in my America kitchen.
In my China kitchen, the tools and setup are different. I need to relearn everything. Just as I need to relearn to set up a bank account, a phone number, shop for food, or buy anything. In the States, I know exactly what to do. Here, I simply do not. Since I has always been fiercely independent, it is frustrated to rely on other people for help.
But that is the life of an expat. Everyday I remind myself that I chose this life, and make myself choose it again. I also need to remember that I’m not alone in this journey. So friends, come to Pingliang, I’m making dinner.
I felt homesick for the first time and just happened to find rice paper at Carrefour!! When I saw the package, I almost teared up. For lunch, I ordered at McDonald’s. I don’t go to McD’s in the States. But in China, it reminds me of home. McD’s: 19 kuai; Rice Paper: 16 Kuai.
I was told this is a specialty around here. However, the name of the dish is Xin Jiang Da Pai Ji (Xinjiang Chicken on a Big Plate). It’s a stew with chopped chicken and potatoes in a lightly spiced sauce. The restaurants will
provide la mian or (pulled noodle) to add to the dish. This is my new favorite way to eat chicken. (Don’t know the cost, nobody let us pay the bill).
Local men here would roll up their shirts and walk around town. We
foreigners lovingly call those Beijing Bikinis. Pic was taken from the back
to protect identity of the innocent!
Finally learned how to wrap dumplings with my host family’s friends.
My host family’s garden: They grow eggplants, melons, mustard greens, green onions, Chinese chives, and of course, lots and lots of spicy peppers. (They eat peppers like a vegetable here).
Two week of practice teaching is over. We’re enjoying some R&R at a bar. The mojito is very good, though I prefer lime over lemon. The single most expensive food or drink item I have paid for so far in China: 40 kuai.
The elderly folks are very active here in China. They retire earlier comparing to those in the States (I think mid 50s for women, early 60s for men), so it is even more of an incentive for them to find hobbies and stay active. This video was taken on a weekday afternoon. Many of them were “exercising” to music in a public park. The guy in the video noticed a handful of foreigners watching him. He was totally putting on a show for us!