I find it so hard to write when I don't feel like things are going my way. I'd like to blame the weather and culture shock, but are these excuses becoming worn down? I feel worn down. I think I complain about my health a lot on this blog, but really, I haven't had a full week of good health since arriving in China. Maybe it's the air quality. I've adopted the chic look of the surgical mask for when I'm on scooter rides, and they sell them all over the place in all kinds of cute patterns. It could be the fact that I work in a germ factory, where I often find myself looking into a pair of crusty nostrils as I repeat a pronunciation. And it could also have something to do with my diet. 

I don't exactly miss Western food... I'm not sitting here drooling over memories of some favorite dish or wishing the local super market would magically start stocking any particular thing. But I miss the whole tradition of Western dining as a whole. The attitude of being able to "have it your way" (is that Subway or Burger King?) is literally foreign in China. You don't go messing with the set menu in an establishment, not without pushing against considerable friction and bafflement on the  part of the cooks and servers. Even if you do have the energy to take on explaining how you want your meal prepared, you're likely to be served the food the way the chef thinks it ought to be made regardless what you asked. This gets tiring when I often find myself eating with people who don't want spicy food, because it seems like the cooks see "no spicy" as the same as "a little spicy".... to them, it's hard to imagine the food with no spicy, it's just wrong, I'm sure! 

It's hard to get a fresh salad here, almost impossible. I think it has to do with the idea that cold foods are bad for digestion? But this results in every meal being heavily oiled. Also, as I said, it's hard to control what goes into your food, it's not as simple as saying "hold the mustard" so I know for a fact I am consuming all kinds of MSG and artificial flavoring when I used to enjoy the taste and health benefits of raw or barely-seasoned food. Also, Chinese eat complex carbs for almost every meel. Don't get me wrong, fresh noodles are about the most delicious thing known to man, but they aren't good for the waistline or nutrition when enjoyed in excess. 
This is one of my favorite noodle dishes to order, especially on a cold cold day. The soup it's in tastes kind of cilantro and cinnamony. I also consider it somewhat nutritional because it's got a lot of green veggies and an egg. Yes, doused in oil and seasoning, but relatively speaking, it's better than a lot of options.

I should probably cook more but all I have to cook with is a hot plate, so I'm limited to boiling and frying. And I just don't have the energy to go out and barter for the vegetables, clean them, cook, clean the dishes...

I know I sound like a terrible complainer today. It's easy to be a complainer on days like this. It's so cold, I'm too chicken to go outside to find lunch. I'm sitting here, munching on peanuts, wishing I could just spread some hummus on some whole wheat bread and be done with it. But I need to lighten up! I mean, oh, poooor meee, I'm in another country shopping my heart out having adventures but there are no sandwiches! Boo hoo! 

And I totally forgot to mention that there is some amazing sushi around here. There is a kind of restaurant where you pay 100 rmb per person and it's all you can eat and all you can drink!!!!! It's amazing!!! But only on rare occasions because a meal normally costs more like 10 rmb. We ate at one such place over the weekend and it was deeeeelightful. Now I guess I'm gonna suck it up and go eat some rice.



12/07/2010 07:22:11

I'm afraid it will be even colder when the "true" winter comes.
I know it's hard to overcome the culture shock,wish you could be happy and take good care of yourself.


12/08/2010 04:53:24

For me its the lack of options. Do you want rice or noodles? Don't worry, it comes spicy. I understand where you're coming from. Its kind of the lack of options. The variety of foods we had avalible. That said, if we ever meet up, Amanda will be happy to fix spaghetti.


12/08/2010 19:50:45

Oh man, I've been so sickly. I'm not cut out for a world with this many children and without Whole Foods. My mom mailed me some multi-vitamins and some Sudafed. I'm trying to make do. There's a place in the mall here that has a salad bar. We'll go when your in town and be Western for an hour or so.


12/16/2010 15:56:57

Melon-- thanks!! I am doing much better. And you were right about that 'true' winter.
Seth-- Some good old fashioned spaghetti italian-american style would be so incredible!
Jessica-- YES! Salad bar is what my body is screaming for. Can't wait :~)


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