Tuesday, July 24, 2012

White Wine, a Confusing Case in Point

In our home countries, we are constantly absorbing information. Our brains piece all of it together into life perspectives. In this foreign land, all those bits of data are mostly unintelligible. Our TV makes sound, people say things and billboards have pictures but the foreign language doesn't compute. The result is a constant state of slight confusion. If you think you fully understand...just wait a minute or two.

白酒 (Báijiǔ) translates to "white wine." This commonly accepted translation is used very often. Sounds simple right? Wait a minute or two...

Looks delicious. Right?
A dinner host may ask your feelings about white wine. You might say it's very good...in moderation of course. Then he'll buy a full bottle and pour your glass full...at which point you've successfully cleared up some translational confusion. If he says "gan bei," you better sit your ass down - it's going to be a long night.

"I've made a huge mistake."

"White wine" is a dirty lie and the sooner you know, the better. A proper translation would be: "A hint of delicious. Followed by a deeply radiant burn. Followed by assistance getting your key in the front door."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fruit Quiz

Many of the fruits we have in US are also available in China, but some things here are not common back home.  Here is a little quiz to test your fruit knowledge. Some are new to me, most I have tried.  New things pop up at the market as the seasons change!

1.This one you may know.  We have them in the US, but they seem to be shaped a little different and are much softer on the inside than ones I bought at the grocery stores back home.

 2.  Another easy one. I bet you didn't expect it to be yellow inside!

3. Outside and inside pictures. I was super excited about this one. It looks so pretty. From the look of the inside I thought maybe it would taste a little like a kiwi, but I find it have virtually no taste at all.

4. This one is sold in a bunch at the market. There is also a shot of the inside. It has a hardish outer shell that is easily peeled. The inside is a white juicy flesh and a small pit.

5. They wouldn't let me buy just one of these and I had no desire to have a bunch of them as I had bought one in the past.  It was more work than it was worth.  It has a hard outer shell and inside has white fleshy fruit with a seed in the center. The bottom is a picture pulled from the Internet.

6.  I have yet to actually try this, mostly because I am afraid of them.  We were warned about people getting sick after eating them.  It looks similar to a large raspberry.  Below I posted a better picture taken from the Interwebs.  I did some reading on them and they seem to be very good for you, but an occasional site warns you of a possible "colon cleansing" effect.  We have had enough experience with that here in China that I don't know if I want to risk it! There are a lot of nooks and crannies that are tough to clean.

7.  This is an easy one.  I have it set next to a yuan, which is about the size of a quarter.  They are small and very tasty!

 8. These look like grapes, but I don't think they are.  I have never seen them at the market or at a store, but the street vendors always have them. 

9. I see him, but choose not to buy him.  I have read that they are stinky.  Maybe one day I will get brave and buy one.

1.  Mango
2.  Kiwi-Just yellow inside!
3. Dragon Fruit
4. Lychee
5. Mangosteen
6. Waxberry--I know there are other common names for them as well.
7. Red Plums--The are small, but very sweet!
8. I don't actually know what these are for sure.  I have been trying to do some Internet hunting and I am leaning towards currant.  The first time I bought them I asked a friend's driver what they were. He said,  "People call them blueberries, but I know that is not right."
9.  Durian

Friday, July 6, 2012

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Festival is a national holiday in China, I even got a day off work without having to make it up. The holiday's origins rest with a poet who killed himself years ago. If you're interested to know the details click here. Otherwise, read on for enough information to pretend like you know something.

They call her "Master"

They call her "Meeps"

Before we get too detailed, I'd like to take a quick moment from you - my little sister is also living abroad and blogging. She is currently vacationing working on a hobby farm in Scotland, a decidedly less comfortable life than that of corporate expats. If you can't get enough Gerke, click here or see the link we added to the right side of this page. She's pretty funny, but probably not as funny as me.

Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu in "pinyin") is a holiday to remember the death of Qu Yuan. He was a former government official a poet, who killed himself after his state was conquered by a rival state in 278 BC

At the starting line, staging the race.
Qu drowned himself in a river. Legend says that people wrapped rice in bamboo leaves and dropped the packets into the water. Depending on who you believe, the leaf was either to prevent fish from eating the rice before Qu could, or to distract the fish from eating his body. The same people are said to have paddled on the river, beating the water with their paddles to scare the fish away.

Sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves is called zongzi. Today people eat zongzi to celebrate this festival like Germans drink beer to celebrate Tuesday. Often the rice is mixed with meat or beans, we have three in the fridge right now but haven't tried them yet.

Dragon boat racing is a major sport in many parts of Asia, and it said to have originated from the day those people paddled out to save Qu. Suzhou hosted some racing on Jin Ji Lake, Shayne and I went to check it out.

The weather was terrible, with heavy rain. We counted that as a good thing because it helped minimize the crowd. However, I've now decided the only way to make a crowd more annoying is to hand everyone umbrellas and tell them to mingle.

The gauntlet

Shayne's friend participated this year on "Team Tai-Tai." We got to watch her team finish third in the qualifying round, which got them a spot in the final.

Team Tai Tai digging deep
Unfortunately, we couldn't stick around for the final. I say it was unfortunate, because Team Tai Tai finished in the money at second place and donated the winnings to charity.

Team Tai Tai showing their wings between rounds
After we'd seen a few races, the rain began to get old. So we rode home in the most worn out taxi I've ever seen.

If it doesn't rain next year, we'll be there.