Tomb Sweeping Day

All in all, I had a pretty good “holiday” even if it wasn’t really a holiday for me.

Some of the girls from the Frisbee team decided that it might be a good idea to get together, take advantage of the nice weather and free time, and get away from all the, and here I quote “big swinging dicks and egos” that characterize practice with the boys. I made it to Chaoyang Park after my morning classes and managed to not get as terribly lost as I did the first time I went. We were a bit of a spectacle to the kite flying, badminton playing denizens of the park, what with our coordinated team plyos and running drills and whatnot, but it was a good day. We finished off with a (kind of pricey) lunch at Chef 2, an American style place. I got a ginger carrot soup and avocado and chicken salad, since I’ve been missing avocados lately. At home I used to buy a bunch and eat one whole with a little salt or soy sauce as an afternoon snack.

More lessons followed practiced, with an intensely awkward conversation with the Swede whose first words to me were America-bashing. He had seen me using an iPad, was inspired to purchase one for himself, and then under the guise of asking me to give him a tutorial to use it, attempted to act all superior and prove himself to be a wondrous master of shiny new technology. I remain unimpressed.

I cabbed to Gulou for an event that the Kitchen was working. This international company had hired an event company which hired us to give a dumpling making tutorial at Dali Courtyard, the Yunnanese restaurant I went to earlier this year. The event company was actually incredibly bitchy and made everything more complicated by micro-managing, but it ended up being a success, mostly because Dice is good at handling bullshit and the people at Dali are really great. I translated for the Chairman, demonstrated no mean dumpling making talent of my own, and was generally charming, despite being ravenously hungry. Most of the helpers left after our tutorial wrapped up, but I stuck around to help Dice and another intern, QQ. She’s local Chinese and just so eager about everything! What is it with these tiny humans and their over-enthusiasm (don’t get me wrong, QQ is a very nice girl, and I like her, I just happen to a cranky grumpster robot). Since the event had only half the people show up that they expected, and it ended fairly early, the Dali staff and us three descended on the buffet once they left. Dali has great food although on the more expensive side of the scale, and I very rarely turn my nose up at free food. Their grilled shrimp was on the menu, which I’ve had before, as well as fried rice, dried beef, tofu skins and basil, and of course, our many dumplings. We had four different fillings: egg and spinach, glass noodle and vegetable, pork and cabbage, and lamb and pumpkin, with corresponding wrapper colors in green, purple, white and orange.

Trays of dumplings because we are dumpling making robots

After snacking on the leftovers, we were still a little peckish. Dice took us to Amigo, just around the corner on Gulou Street, for decent Mexican (I wouldn’t go again if I was back at home, but while in China… it satisfied a craving, although i might have to experiment with cooking Mexican at home sometime). We introduced QQ to her first Mexican food, nachos, burritos and enchiladas. Highly satisfying.

Perhaps the best part of the day? Receiving a text from Bambi that said “friend is moving. oven for sale. I assume you want it? it’s ours now.” I am so excited, although I have no idea where we’re going to keep it, and I may just actually become the fattest panda. For the past three months I’ve been overlooking recipes that require baking…there is going to be an explosion of activity in my kitchen very soon…roast chicken and vegetables, braised oxtail and pork and lamb shanks, cakes, cookies, pies…


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