The “what did I just eat” game

My host family were very generous and took me out for a flash Sichuan meal tonight. Here’s what Wikipedia has on Sichuan cuisine:

Sìchuān cài or Chinese: 川菜; pinyin: Chuān cài) is a style of Chinese cuisine originating from Sichuan province in southwestern China. It has bold flavours, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chili peppers, as well as the unique flavor of the Sichuan pepper.

So basically it is VERY HOT food.

We had a boiling pot of stock in the middle of the table and periodically put meat and veges in the pot to cook it in the stock. The pot was divided into two sections…

One side of the pot was REALLY hot. Spicy hot. Sichuan hot. I tried something (not sure what) from the spicy side about half way through the meal. I couldn’t taste much of my second half of the meal as my mouth and throat were on fire. I immediately regretted my Sichuan side decision. Maybe that was just as well though as some of the more exotic cuts of meat were not what I was used to.

So. “What did I just eat?”

The options in random order are:

  • Pig intestines
  • Cow's stomach lining
  • Goat
  • Shrimp

Try to match these to the photos below…

1.

2.

3.

4.

Have a guess….

Go on…

Shrimp is the first one. Yes, it was the most artistically presented shrimp I had ever seen as well. Second photo is the cow’s stomach lining. Waste not want not right? Third photo (the stuff in the white bowl) isn’t actually goat. I have no idea whatsoever what that was. And the last photo is the pig intestines. That had a very interesting texture. Overall a pretty cool experience!

Sightseeing wise, so far I’ve had a wander through Tianzifang with my new friend Laurence who I met at the police station when we were registering. She’s from Belgium.

Lonely Planet tells me it’s “an entertainment complex housed within a warren of traditional lòngtáng or alleyways”. On Saturday it was very crowded but that added to the atmosphere. There were all sorts of tiny boutiques — it really is like you’ve gone into a rabbit warren when you go inside each shop. Many tea shops and dessert shops.

This mango kiosk sold mango desserts as big as your head.

And there was a bao store selling the most creative looking baos (steamed buns) I had seen:

If you zoom in you can see that there are pig baos and penguin baos and yellow monster baos. Delicious art.

Today I went swimming at the Shanghai Swimming Centre. It was packed! They were very strict about having a swimming cap and when you enter you have to sign off your “health declaration” which receives an official red stamp (the Chinese love their official red stamp) before you can enter the pool. Good precautionary measures when you have such a huge population. I’m just thinking of that movie Contagion.

After that I went to Shanghai Community Fellowship with my friend Jerry. It is a beautiful church in Xujiahui (my favourite station and area in Shanghai I have already decided) and really international. I met people from Canada, America and Switzerland.

My mate Anne who wants to practice English with me.

So how is the language going? Jerry reckons my Mandarin is improving because I have no shame. I took it as a compliment. I am making good ground with my mèimei (little sister) as she will now come and hang at the table with me or in my room and she’ll use more of her English. Tonight she came in and said “good evening — wait, I mean goodnight!”. It was a great moment. When I first arrived she refused to say anything let alone English! For me mèimei has been the best teacher as she will automatically correct me when I say something wrong. Adults are a bit kinder and just let it slide but a 10 year old doesn’t let anything slide! Sometimes she openly laughs at me and mimics my poor Mandarin. I laugh along with her and try to get her to tell me the correct way to say it. Sometimes she does, sometimes she just keeps laughing/mimicking.

Here’s to the brutal honesty of kids. ✌️