Happy Meal 吃饭

No one can be happier than me
Happier than me, happier than me
Happier than me
-The Cardigans

This last year I developed a bad attitude-- a bad attitude about Chinese food. It’s oily with a side of greasy. It’s so loaded with MSG and salt that I have to drink a gallon of water. Every restaurant serves the exact same dishes. I can only eat so many noodle bowls.

I guess I was like a Chinese person living in the USA who only eats at Denny’s and McDonald’s. What would he conclude about American food? It’s oily with a side of greasy. It’s so loaded with salt that he has to drink a gallon of tea. Every restaurant serves the same thing. He can only eat so many hamburgers.

Thanks to my generous Chinese friend, my food attitude has been renewed.

She told us where to go and what time to arrive. We rode our bikes to the specified Chinese restaurant. I’ve passed by this particular roast duck restaurant a thousand times and never looked twice. It looks like every other Chinese restaurant-- the exterior beams embellished red, green, blue, and gold looking distinctly like a Chinese restaurant. It's just another Chinese restaurant dishing up kung pao chicken (宫保鸡丁) and xiangyu pork (香鱼丝肉). But this evening proved to be anything but ordinary.

Can I just say... the food was AMAZING. The plates kept coming. Sizzling spicy cauliflower. Salt crusted spicy green beans. Steamed bamboo stalks. Fresh soybeans. A salad made of colorful succulent leaves drizzled with a light and tangy dressing. Then there was the meat. Beijing roast duck eaten like a taco: slivers of fatty meat folded into a paper thin tortilla along with hoisin sauce, scallions, and cucumber. Barbecued fish with a sweet and sour sauce. Beijing style dry beef. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth roasted lamb. Kung pao chicken (a Chinese meal would not be complete without kung pao chicken). And the star of the meal (in my opinion): cumin lamb ribs. Those cumin lamb ribs were the BOMB. I drooled and dreamed about them for weeks afterward.

The company was just as good as the food. Our small dinner party represented all different parts of the globe- we were from England, Germany, Japan, United States, and of course, China. Do you know how amazing that is? All of us speaking Chinese, all of us laughing uproariously. Somehow we all ended up in a small dining room feasting on lamb ribs, roast duck, and sharing our stories-- stories about growing up, learning life-changing knowledge, and how we ended up in a huge, sprawling city speaking one of the most difficult languages to learn.

An amazing evening.

Go ahead ask me, is Chinese food good? Yes! Just stay out of the Chinese fast food joints and eat a meal with me before you judge.

Chinese word of the blog: 吃饭 Chīfàn
English translation: eat

Vegan friendly salad

More lamb ribs puh-lease

Roast duck carved to order


Cups 拔罐

It's got sights to give you shivers
But it sure would be prettier with you
-Anna Kendrick

Here are some ideas how to beat the common cold:
  1. Drink plenty of fluids
  2. Rest
  3. Load up on Vitamin C
  4. Eat chicken soup
  5. Have your back vacuum sucked into small cups many times all over, leaving an array of circular hickeys.
One recent evening, we went to our favorite massage place to get our muscles pounded to a pulp. As usual, the masseuses were full of helpful suggestions: You need to drink more hot water. You need to exercise more. You need to get massage at least twice month. Your shoulder is too tight so you should get oil massage. Your feet are too dry, so you should get “foot fixing.”*

This particular evening, the masseuse noticed birdMAN’s sniffly nose and said cupping will definitely get rid of that pesky cold (See Dr. Yang).  For only an additional 40 RMB (6.50USD), we again could put Chinese medicine to the test. Will the ancient art of cupping mysteriously release birdMAN from the grips of his bothersome cold?

Soon birdMAN was prone on his stomach and his back lathered with oil. This is what happened:

The masseuse burns up the oxygen inside a glass cup with a flaming cotton ball and in a swift motion, places the cup in appropriate places along the back. As the cup cools, the skin gets sucked up into the cup breaking blood vessels and supposedly promoting blood circulation. The darker the circle, the bigger the problem. As you can see in the below photos, birdMAN’s right shoulder seemed to be suffering.The masseuse deduced that birdMAN spends too much time on the computer. Also his body is too cold (as in energy, not as in ice) because he spends to much time in air conditioning. Good thing he got the cupping. Now his body was in balance.

So the question is: Did cupping get rid of his cold? Are we now disciples of Chinese medicine? Nope. The cold proceeded as normal. Maybe I should have made him some chicken soup and dosed him with Vitamin C.

*”Foot fixing” is my loose translation from the Chinese. I know it involves a knife 刀and fixing修。I am somewhat sure this procedure involves scrubbing callouses off dry feet. Some day I am going to try it just to see what happens.

Chinese Word of the Blog: 拔罐 Báguàn
English Translation: Cupping (as in Chinese medicine, not the kind you drink out of)


Crazy Little Thing Called Love 结婚纪念日

It cries (Like a baby)
In a cradle all night
It swings (Woo Woo)
It jives (Woo Woo)
It shakes all over like a jelly fish,
I kinda like it
Crazy little thing called love
- Queen

On September 30, 2001, we got married. Fourteen years later, we are  still married. It's been good. Happy anniversary to us!

Watch what happened over the last year in (only) seven minutes.

Chinese Word of the Blog: 结婚纪念日jiéhūn jìniàn rì
English Translation: wedding anniversary