Girlie went on a grand business adventure to Xi’an and Chon Qing, which she summed up in this adorable bit of an email:
Could I put in a special request for comfort food and perhaps even a beer? “Comfort food” in this context would be anything home-cooked that does not involve any of the following, all of which I have eaten in the last three days: sea snails, mystery sea creatures, baby squid, gamy mutton, Thai chilies, whole fish or eels, quail eggs, copious amounts of chili oil, whole raw fish on kebabs for hotpot, three kinds of tripe in the same meal, liver balls, or shrimp in lemon curd, or meat of any sort still connected to bones or tendons.
I followed through for her and prepared to put her on a plain diet of her favorite things here: baby bok choi and noodles or rice. I went to the local food market which I’d found a week ago, and wandered around.The fun thing about shopping as an expatriot in China is that you get to experiance a small bit of what I can only imagine it’s like for black people visiting Maine. Everyone stares at you, from a flicker of interest to a full on, mouth agape, wide-eyed stare of utter and complete shock, that’s only cute when toddlers do it.
What is this Lao Wai doing here? This is where I shop!
I wandered about, soaking in the shop and smiling at the vendors. Among the dumpling ladies and the noodle men, there are 7 vegetable stalls selling essentially the same things, for essentially the same prices. The woman who got my business was awarded such honor because she smiled back at me.
As I mentioned, I was on a mission to secure enough bok choi to please a now (temporarily) dietarily skittish Girlie, so I handed over 15 rmb and asked for That One. I got at least a kilo (see left). Damn, that’s some cheap vegetables. Compare to the expat market nearer our apartment, where I got 4 button mushrooms and 12 bok choi for 1ormb.
This led to a new rule for dining out in China. I will never, ever, ever, pay for fried rice. For a fun writing experience, here’s how to make fried rice.
First check for leftover rice in your fridge. It can be from indian take out, home-made or even brown rice. All that matters is that it’s cooked, and COLD.
Wok cooking is loud, so I suggest Soundgarden Down the Upside for a soundtrack. Alternately, Ghostface Killah’s Big Doe Rehab. Either way, your neighbors won’t suspect you’re making Chinese food. Crank it.
Clean, chop and wok fry/cook meat/vegetables, in your wok, on high. Remember, Hot Pan, Cold Oil, No Stick!
Add soy sauce, a bit of Chinese rice wine and whatever else (oyster sauce, preserved black beans, basically anything but cheese)
thrown in cold rice and stir constantly, until everything is a toasty, greasy, tasty mass of yum.
Turn the music up even louder and chow down with a Tsingtao.