Saturday, December 06, 2003

Chī fàn!

“Have you eaten?”

“No, not yet, but I’m getting ready to….”

In fact I’ve just prepared twelve boiled “mystery dumplings” from the local market. I call them “mystery dumplings” because these frozen delights are all dumped into large bins in the freezer section and labeled in Mandarin as to their contents.

I’ve had help from some of my Chinese friends who can read the labels but I can never remember the order of the bins. So, I go by sight. The folded ones seem to be better; typically pork or beef either with vegetable or not. I stay right the hell away from the purse-string looking ones because they are usually contain seafood and God are they nasty tasting.

In the U.S., I was an “EATER.”

I loved to eat. If I wasn’t going out to eat at a steakhouse restaurant or a Mexican food joint, I was downing Big Mac’s left and right at Mickey D’s, going for the Bacon Double Cheeseburger at Burger King®, or pointing to the biggest hamburger on the menu at Wendys®.

“Uh, excuse me….Can you Super Size that?”

Here in China, my taste buds, along with my appetite, went on strike. To get to a McDonalds®, Pizza Hut® or Kentucky Fried Chicken®, you have to take a bus to Guangzhou, over the highway for thirty minutes or risk your life on a motorcycle taxi ride to Xingtang.

Sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

So, I cook in my apartment. Spam sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, chicken gizzard-eggplant-green pepper-onion stir fry, pre-frozen, spicy dog kebobs….thus, my appetite has been reduced to nearly zero and I’ve lost a lot of weight. So-much-so that my pants finally fit as they should.

Plus, I’ve been sick for a month, if not longer. Every day I’m downing licorice pills and other assorted thingamajigs that the Chinese Traditional Medicine doctor gives me, but still my cough, general malaise and runny nose persists.

But this coming Friday it’s PARTY TIME!!!!

Me and my pal Sebastien are gonna paint Xingtang red!

I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I received an e-mail from someone I didn’t know, with the subject line: “Hello From Phoenix City!”

The e-mail was from a French Canadian guy named Sebastien who is working at the five star hotel here in Phoenix City. Sebastien saw my blog site online, which surprised me because I can’t pull up my blog at all. Evidently Sebastien got through by doing a search on

He’s got two co-workers named Tanka and Bala, who are from Nepal and we’re going out to Xingtang on Friday to kick back at one of the outdoor barbecue joints, eat, drink and look for Mary.

It’s such a pleasure to meet someone from my neck of the woods.

Sebastien is from Montreal, which is as close to New Hampshire as you can get, given being here in China. Sebastien speaks good English so it’s going to be a pleasure to sit back and enjoy good company and a good meal while conversing normally.

Things are looking up for me now after a long and depressing adjustment here….The hard-initial culture shock, depressing news from back home, Chinese red-tape, being robbed, feeling vulnerable and lost. But finally I’m fitting in here. China suddenly isn’t so bad. It just takes time to adjust to things.



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