Growing up in a Chinese household, I’ve had the privilege of eating the best of authentic Chinese cuisine. I adore Chinese food. And I’m not talking about that General Tso’s or sweet and sour chicken (although I agree those are super delicious), but the delectable egg fried rice, or stir fried chicken with lots and lots of green vegetables, or the spicy noodles, or those dumplings! Don’t even get me started on those dumplings. Luckily, last weekend we had the opportunity to cook our own dumplings after scavenging a market for all the goodie ingredients.
Our teachers took us to this absolutely insane crazy busy traditional Chinese market, where we were divided into teams. They gave each team a list of food ingredients we had to find. Once we found people to show us where our items were in this massive maze of veggies, bizarre types of animal meat, etc., we were to bargain down the price. The team that spent the least amount of money would get dessert. While I got strange looks because my Chinese appearance and Chinese bargaining capability were laughable, Ally was greeted with smiles at her attempts to keep money in her pockets. Haha it was so sad! But it was so much fun. After we bought our ingredients we took a cab to our teacher’s home and began washing up to prepare lunch.
All of us students surrounded a tiny little kitchen table to help clean, cut, and stir ingredients for the dumplings. We mirrored elfish minions in our determination to complete our tasks... it was quite a funny sight. And boy did we make a lot of dumplings:
It was my teacher’s house that we went to. We ate not only dumplings, but also plenty of traditional Chinese dishes. And it was actually really fun hanging out with our Chinese teachers – they are all so adorable and cute (Jesse too).
After we had lunch, my Chinese teacher (in the picture) took us to get massages. We paid less than 15 U.S. dollars for a 2-hour massage that included a head massage, body massage, and foot massage. They even served you fruit and tea! It was the most wonderful experience ever! It was several days later though, that I got to try tea to its fullest potential.
Back at Duke, I probably got Von Der Heyden tea at least 4 or 5 times a week. Preferring tea to coffee any day, I found China to be quite attuned to my tastes. :) This week we were treated to an unlimited tea tasting ceremony. After a little mishap of losing the boys who were in their own cab (totally not surprised!), we met up in this mini outdoor city of teashop after teashop after teashop. Imagine a tea mall. The tea wasn’t packaged in tiny sealed bags either; they were in boxes and boxes of hundreds or thousands of types of tealeaves. There was even a special Yunnanese tea that could be molded into various shapes like this:
… if you prefer your tea to look like dung.
They didn’t just stop at tealeaves either. The tea factory sold teacups, teapots, and other various supplies. I found one hand-made and hand-designed teacup that went for 4,000 US dollars!
After touring products that cost more than my flight to China, we sat at a table where this adorable Chinese man started brewing us yummy smelling tea. There were at least 10 pieces of equipment used to properly “serve” the tea. There were baby teacups, special washers, specific cups that strained the tealeaves, serving teapots, brewing teapots, weird tongs, and so forth! I felt like I was in the audience of a show!
Thank god the teacups were so cute and small, otherwise my bladder probably would have exploded! This lovely man served us rounds upon rounds upon rounds of different flavored tea. Some tea supposedly made women look more beautiful every time she drank, and there was even some tea that supposedly made you lose weight. The entire experience was so incredibly fascinating, and so mouthwateringly delicious. I never thought I would say this, but that day fulfilled my tea quota for the next couple of weeks…
I hope Duke’s cuisine is treating you as well as China’s is treating me (though I doubt it is! :) ) I’ve heard the new version of the Tower is one to look forward to! I hope you all had lovely and relaxing fall breaks and you are enjoying yourselves as the half waypoint of the semester makes its turn. My program’s midterms are next week, and they are looking pretty killer. Unlike other study abroad programs, Duke in China is one of 6 hour class days, weekly 3 hour tests, and homework that unfortunately prevents us from going out a lot. But don’t worry! We all still find time for fun. :) I’m taking a Chinese language class, a Chinese history class, and an independent research study… which I look forward to telling you more about in the future. Please don’t forget to check in on next week’s post on my travel experience to Yuxi, a beautiful hot springs tourist location. :)
Signing off until next time,
Your happily fed friend,