Tuesday, August 23, 2005

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I have to tell you that I have never appreciated bathrooms as much as I do now. Chinese toilets are foul, foul, foul. Pictures are largely done, except for my last day in Suzhou at Tiger Hill.

As far as the food in China goes, well, there was a whole lot of pointing at the menu and hoping for the best. My friends' reading comprehension extended far enough that we had a general idea of what sort of meat we'd be getting, but not a whole lot farther. I can say that it is unlikely that I ate any dog, as that is generally consumed during the winter and thus was considered 'out of season.' I learned that the Chinese food that we get here is largely from further south than I visited, and I learned that if a Chinese person knows enough English to point to something and say that it's, "Very delicious," I probably don't want to eat it.
Largely, my trouble was the garlic, which I am allergic to and which they believe helps keep away bad spirits. I spent a lot of the trip feeling vaguely ill, which is pretty much part of the business of travel.

But I can tell you that the most amazing food I had on the trip was in Hangzhou. The area is the place to find Longjin tea, and one of the local specials is a sort of fried tiny shrimp cooked with the tea. It's splendid, but even better was what they call Dongpo Pork, named after the man who wrote a poem in praise of pork. I don't know how it's made, but I do know that it would have been a lot easier to eat if it hadn't been served as a huge hunk of pork to be eaten with chopsticks.
Chinese table manners being what they are, I was probably just supposed to pick it up and gnaw on it. Instead, I chose to fight with it, to break it into manageable bits with my chopsticks. I won in the end, and it was delicious, but I probably should have gone the Chinese way.

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