Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Living Like a Local

Hello All!

I have been counting the days...one week left in Minhang, then it's a worldwind tour with the hubby and kids through the country. This past week I have dutifully attended my language lessons with my tutor, Molly Zhu. Molly is a bubbly 20 year-old sophomore at East China Normal University and she is absolutely adorable! Molly, with her youth and knowledge of pop culture, has become an invaluable asset as I begin to grasp the meaning behind everyday colloquialisms. It helps that we catch the bus, buy food and drinks and I am forced to employ my skills consistently.

This week Alli and I have had some novel food experiences. First however, let me complain about the weather. You see in Baltimore, when we fuss about the weather someone always says, "Just wait five minutes, it'll change" In Shanghai, there is no such argument. If you complain about the weather, people just look at you as if you are stupid. I have never seen people accept rain with such quiet resignation. Alas, if you could see my hair, you'd know that I have reached the same stage of acceptance...

Anyway, back to food. As you may have gleaned from earlier posts, Alli and I have been overdosing on morning foods- stuffed buns, crepe-things and small fried dumplings (Allison calls these "pinch pots" because of their shape and because there is meat and some sort of soup inside them. They actually look like someone just pinched the tops to close the soup inside! Come on, it's a brilliant nickname- good job Alli!)

So what do we do for dinner? Well, we gorge again of course- c'mon we are Americans after all!
I have learned something interesting about dining in Chinese restaurants. I'll share it because it is both profound and oddly, not so obvious. Here it is...The FIRST thing in the menu is likely the ONLY thing the restaurant is good at making. No kidding! A fish place is only good at preparing fish (and only the way they like to do it!), a noodle place is only good for noodles, ect. That means, if you're like me and find something you like at a restaurant, do not go to another restaurant and ask for it! Order what the restaurant advertises and you will most likely be happy with what comes out of the kitchen. If all else fails, get beer- it's cheaper than bottled water at most places.

I have to share some of my favorite transliterated menu descriptions: #5- Daily Family Activity Fried Rice Noodle, #4- Chops the Pepper to Steam the Strong Smelling Fermented Bean Curd (Yes, your dinner will likely stink!), #3- Irritable Scalloped Kidney, #2- Fierce Appearance Green Pepper, #1- Private World Sub-Meat (it is the specialty of the restaurant). While I greatly appreciate the effort that these fancy restaurants have put into making their menu's Westerner-friendly, what the hell is Sub-Meat?

Next post, you get to hear about my sit-in at the Apple Authorized Repair shop. Yay, democracy!


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Shanghai Apartment

Shanghai Apartment
Living and Diningroom

Shanghai Apartment

Shanghai Apartment
Our Bedroom

Shanghai Apartment

Shanghai Apartment
We have a garden!