A not-so-super market

This is my local market. Not the big one that has a lot of really nice candies and fresh packaged eggs and a pretty decent Western section, but the one that’s next to the wet market I like to go to and kind of smells like old cardboard.

Does it scare you? It kind of scares me, too. The aisles are super narrow, a lot of the age of the items on the shelves are ambiguous, and I am pretty sure there is no stock house in the back so every single product is stcked high-high-high on the shelves.

But you know what, I don’t mind it. Not only for the fact that it is closer to home and twice as cheap, but also because I’m now becoming fond of all things Chinese. And, seeing a photo like this makes me smile with disbelief that I actually include something like this in my weekly routine.

China is big.

Did you guys know that?

The CIA’s online world factbook has a bounty of interesting numbers on China. As I read the list of China’s bordering countries- Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia (northeast), Russia (northwest), Tajikistan, Vietnam- I think about everything it’s done for the Chinese food culture.  Naturally the variety of cuisine varies in every country, but in a land as large as China, you’ll see the influences of these neighbors trickling in from every one of its fourteen borders.

Mexican food has such a large place in today’s American diet.  Tex-Mex, Baja California cuisine, and Southwest style flavors- I can only imagine what our diet in the States would be if we were not flanked by two countries, but rather, ten or twenty. And no offense Canada, but your contribution of Poutine isn’t quite on par with Mexico’s gift of Nachos (but it’s okay, because you gave us hockey).

Only when I moved here did I see evidence of the Western Chinese muslim population, looking more Arab than any Chinese person I had been accustomed to seeing. In Guangzhou they sell nuts and dried fruit from their wooden wagon carts next to the subway entrance, and keep the city’s muslim restaurant count high.

The DiploMan and I stopped in at one of these quick-eats joints a few weeks ago.  Pointing to a wall of a pictures lit under a fluorescent light tube, we selected a couple of hearty rice and noodle based dishes.  It was certainly different than any Chinese food I had eaten in the past, but still had a familiarity that I suppose any beef and noodle dish does in referencing my food memory bank. Maybe it was the satisfaction of an oily plate of noodles, but I could see how Western China survived centuries of turmoil and conquests off of this stuff.

Hello, China!

So, loyal readers (all ten of you)- You may have noticed a little change in the looks of my Peeps.  Whaddya think?!

I spent the first part of last week trying to figure out how to fluidly switch over from Blogger to WordPress, and then spent the latter half of the week not-so-fluidly making formatting corrections, CSS tweaks, loading (and unloading) plug-ins, and testing out dozens and dozens of themes.  Here, for better or worse, is the still-in-progress yet presentable blog.

Why the switch?  Well, most Americans in China subscribe to a VPN to get their fix of Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, and Google Reader- among hundreds of other sites not accessibile with the regular internet in China.  VPN for all you non-techies, is a subscription-based service which once loaded and keyed-in from a computer, allows a person to remotely log on from an American IP address.  Our VPN is hosted from a SF location, so we’re technologically close to home- it’s as if we connect and log-on via a router in San Francisco.  Anyway, VPN access, though amazing and inexpensive and easy to install, is just another step which slows down what is an already blazing-slow internet connection.  It’s really quite amazing.

As you’ve guessed, Blogspot (and subsequently all blogspot-hosted blogs) is blocked here in China.  Wordpress, surprisingly, has so far flown under the radar of silly government internet censorship rules, although me writing that probably doesn’t contribute much to keeping things under wraps.  Anyway, in an effort to reach my Chinese homies, I made the switch.  So really, whaddya think?!