Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Asia Again

Some selections from my last trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong.  It was a pretty good trip this time around.  While in mainland China, I figured out how to crack into the juicy bits of the internet (wait, that sounds like something naughty... I'm talking Facebook here, people).  I ate well, for the most part (see proof of exception with "bandage photo" below).  I caught up with old friends.  And a puppy wandered into one of my fabric meetings!  That *has* to be some kind of good luck.  At least in my book.

What?  Will this product actually clean between my teeth??  And how is it a sandwich?  It just looks like some sesame seed-covered goo.  Which is probably a more accurate name for it.

Dinner with Ada!

Yumminess.... Spareribs, jellyfish, and fatty pork.  I really fell in love with jellyfish this trip.  Something about the texture.  And the tangy dipping sauce!

Tofu with crab ovum.  There was lots of ovum to be had this time around.  I guess I wasn't complaining.

This is called something like "Duck 8 Ways"... yummy duck filled with sticky rice.  I don't know what the other 7 ways were (to me, it was just duck + sticky rice), but it sure was good.  Flora said that her grandma makes this dish.  If I were Flora, I would ask grandma to teach me!

Artfully arranged Shanghainese fish.  I tell you, I am getting more and more skeeved out at eating the fish in China, what with the polluted waters.  And besides that, I am crap at picking out the rampant bones with chopsticks, so it's always a frustration.

"Utencials".... don't make it harder than it needs to be, people.

This was at the Papa John's Pizza at the Shanghai Expo.  Our pizza meal deal came with chicken wings.  (Which I guess is not that odd, except that in China everything fast food comes with chicken wings... or at least some sort of chicken nugget.  For reals!  EVERY McDonald's value meal came with fries AND McNuggets.  I'm American and even I thought it was a lot of food.)  The most troubling thing about my overseas Papa John's experience was that the garlic-butter sauce was fluorescent yellow.  Like, black-light glowing.  I always remembered it being sort of off-white in the States.  More, you know, "natural."  But this stuff looked like, well, liquified viral snot.  But tasted like garlic butter.  Ah, the wonders of food made in a lab.

This dirty street puppy wandered into a fabric meeting I was having.  He is adorable from the front, but once we saw his dirty bottom he was shown the door.

Dirty bandage on the floor of the place I was taken for lunch one day.  Look, I am not one of those travelers who can't hang with the non-western foods.  If you have read a few of the "I Ate That" posts on this blog, you know that well.  I am willing to try just about anything (excepting dog or cat, I draw the line there) as long as I can trust it was hygienically prepared.  A dirty bandage on an already-dirty floor, rampant flies, and a waitress with white flakes literally falling out of her greasy hair and major burn scars running up and down her arms did not have me salivating for a delicious Chinese meal.  

Thankfully my travel partner understood where I was coming from and ordered me a separate plate of fried rice, from which I took none of the meat.  I hated letting the rest of the table think that I was the uppity American who'd rather be eating pizza, but not enough to actually share the communal bowls of questionable food with them. 

There are so many amazing things about this can of coconut juice.  

For example, "Do not add any essence"... I sure hope that they are trying to tell me that they actually did not add any "essence" because they'd better not be telling me how to enjoy MY coconut juice.  I'll add a damn essence if I want to!

And then, what is a "State Banquet"?  And how did this get to be its official beverage??  I picture a bunch of Chinese suits toasting with this stuff as they laugh about how they own the American economy.  So long as they don't add any essence.

Napkin art.

And here it is!  Perhaps one of the most unusual things I have eaten to date:  boiled pawpaw with frog ovum.  (See, I told you there would be more ovum!)

There was a good 10 minutes between the point that I started eating this and the point that someone finally got out their iPhone to translate what they had all be trying to tell me it was.  They finally were able to tell me that it was frog ovum from a special kind of frog from a special part of China, and that it was good for "lady."  But now that I'm home and did a little more research, I'm pretty such it was hasma (frog fallopian tubes) that I was eating.  It had a slightly froggy or fishy flavor and a texture like tapioca.  It was served in the warm paw paw, and came with coconut milk, simple syrup, and honey on the side.  I must say, it was oddly delicious.  Subtly sweet and if you didn't know what you were eating, I swear you wouldn't have noticed the froggy sub-taste.  

Panda nail wants to eat this deliciously sweet and salty snack.  Despite having my nails over-filed and getting frustrated that I couldn't just tell the poor girl to stop in a way other than pulling my hands away, I came away with two adorable and hand-painted panda nails.  

I know that taxi drivers everywhere in the world are assigned a number.  And it's no different in China, except that that guy in the toll booth or the lady working in customs at the airport, well, they also have numbers, which are prominently on display--more so than their names.  This bothers me.

Being as it was a somewhat sketch spot (at the airport), I opted for the fried rice instead.

Speaking of sketch, these late-night street noodles and meatballs had my stomach doing flips (and not in a happy way) in HK.  Yeah sure, I knew better.

I love that the Doctor's Choice group has a special blend of herbs (and spices?) targeted for "Executives." 

But then, I also like the one for "Hair."  Is that for more hair?  Better quality hair?  Longer hair?  Go on now, Doctor's Choice.

Hong Kong was decked out for Halloween.  It was a nice switch from Paris (or Brussels) where they don't care at all about the holiday.

And I leave you with some pretty pictures...

Waiting on the bullet train.

A lovely mill garden.

More scenes from a mill.  I love the roses.