tasty bytes from China

January 2013
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The Color of Air
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 2:48 pm


I didn’t think much about air in the states, maybe a few
high ozone days in Chicago or when driving through Gary, Indiana.

But in China?

You check the air pollutant forecast in the morning along
with the weather.

At, you can download a
widget for your computer so you can decide if you want to breathe or not.

Just like Skittles, there’s a rainbow of air quality. If
the city’s widget is yellow or green, you don’t have to hold your breath.

Since Kunming is located on a mountaintop plateau in Yunnan–hugging
the shores of Lake Dianchi–the air widget is usually in the lemon yellow lime green
zone. Beijing is usually in the raspy raspberry
zone but lately, it’s
been off the charts and in the Twizzler black licorice land.

You’re supposed to wear a face mask on days when the air looks
like pumpkin soup, but not the cute Sponge Bob type.  

You are recommended to go to pharmacist and pick up
an N95 mask. It is not a fashion statement by any means.

The funny thin is, many of these masks are made in China, probably in a
factory that spews out the air-poo.

there are things in the air that make it hard to breathe in the fresh air of Kunming:

Stinky Tofu and
 Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs.
Students pop garlic pills like skittles to ward away sickness in the winter.

I think they work.

My classroom
reeks of garlic and none of my students are absent.

And none of
them want to kiss each other.


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Street Eats
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:22 pm


Jeff and I had a good time in the states visiting family and
letting our taste buds go on a wild rampage. We both ate whatever we wanted.  Plus for Christmas, my
mother-in-law got me  grape nuts and tuna fish to bring back to China, the best stocking stuffer ever.

But in America, I began to miss some of my favorite Chinese
street food. For starters, the Ham Man (who is now a women).

StreetEatsCompQ32013 051

This local
vendor has a little kiosk parked in a neighborhood garage where she dices and
slices various cuts of smoked pork to your liking, from pig face to pig feet. It is then mixes with
crushed peppers, nuts and cilantro. A hunky helping is about a buck fifty.

The Chinese Cash Register

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The Ham Man and other food vendors never
touch the money. That’s what tongs are for.

The Banana Man.

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The Lotus Guy. This is the vegetable with free spiro-graph designs inside.

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The Stinky Tofu Lady. This stuff could clean the sinus’s out
of a dead guy.

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The Squid on a Stick. At least I think it’s squid…

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Wok Style Potatoes. If they sold these in front of  Wal-marts in America, we’d all be heifer sized.

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Hunk of Meat on the Street. At least you know that it’s


Still, we made sure to pack a few of our American favorites
for the flight. We got an 18 by 18 by 18 inch box from UPS, and filled it with
all of the foods you can’t easily find here.

StreetEatsCompQ32013<br />

We weren’t the only one with cubes of food. There were
several other passengers on our flight checking the same recyclable packaging.

1 comment
About that important instructional movie….
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:26 am


Jeff and I are making that weird trip back to China tonight.
This time, it’s a fifteen hour odyssey from LAX to Guangzhou followed by a two
hour flight to Kunming.(note: it only takes the space shuttle eight and a half minutes to make it into initial orbit). While I haven’t racked up as many frequent flier miles
as Hillary Clinton, I have spent enough time in the air to make a few
intelligent suggestions to the airlines.

Instead of telling us how to put on my seat belt or the air
temperature at 24,000 feet, why not tell me something useful?

Like how to crawl
over the sleeping guy in the aisle seat in the middle of the night when you
have to use the toilet
. Half the time, the person  in the middle seat has  eye patches on
cup of  Airbus Chablis on their dinner tray, making it impossible to get to the aisle
unless your Agent 007. Is this a situation where I’m supposed to flip on the
light switch for assistance?

How to deal with crying
baby sitting two rows behind you.
Why is there always a crying baby on
international flights? To make the agony worse, the crying baby got to fly for
free because it sits in a parent’s lap. They should pay more since one crying
baby makes the flight unbearable for the other 377 passengers. Forget the first
class behind the magic “do not use the restrooms in this elite section” curtain, why
not have a crying baby class? I’d pay premium to put the babies in there!


Regarding asking me
if I want chicken or beef for dinner?
Why bother? They taste the same. On
international flights, you still get complimentary meals and the only reason you
eat them is because you are bored.  One
will be brown sledge over rice, the other will be a dingy yellow over noodles. If you plan ahead, I suggest ordering  the fruit plate or kosher meal just for a culinary surprise. Also, you’ll
get to eat first.

How to keep stuff
from being stolen from your checked suitcase.
  About ten DVDs got swiped from my suitcase on
route to Detroit from China. The thief hand selected what DVDs he would take
and which he would not: taking the collection of 007 movies and leaving the
chick flicks. I’m pretty sure they were swiped state side since bootleg DVD
are as plentiful as rice in China.


And at the airport….I
am so confused about I can pack in my carry-on.
Granted, Sanders Butterscotch
Topping should never be packed in a carry-on, which is why it got confiscated
in Detroit. But if I put it in my checked luggage, it is at risk of being
ripped off.  So give me some guidance

One more thing to
explain in that movie, why do packages of toiletries have measurements in grams
while the TSA guys have guidelines in ounces
? Please get together. Maybe
put a little airplane icon on bottle sizes that are safe enough to be airborne.
Trust me, after fifteen hours in the sky, having  a bit of mouthwash would be nice.


1 comment