The Fruit Cake of China

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‘Tis the season – Chinese mid-autumn festival is here again. And this special pastry known as the moon cake is back in the bakery. The moon cake is to China – to what the fruit cake is to America. I cannot say either taste delicious.

Traditional moon cakes have either a filling of red bean or lotus seed paste. The shape of the dessert is supposed to resemble a moon.

The dessert is a symbol of reunion, so families often get together during this time.

A Chinese florist says, “The moon cake first appeared in ancient times as an offering to the moon. At that time, emperors would pay homage to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. It was also a custom for the general public to worship or pay homage to the moon in mid autumn in every lunar August. The age-old custom was handed down to later generations and eating moon cakes at the Mid-autumn Festival has become an inseparable part of the celebrations. Various legends about the origin of moon cakes have been circulating in China throughout the ages.”

Pepsi-Chicken Flavored Chips

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There’s a new hot potato in town – Pepsi-Chicken flavored chips.

You know the last time I went to KFC (which was probably 10 years ago), I didn’t think to pour my Pepsi on my chicken drummy. Apparently, I wasn’t the creative foodie/fat kid to come up with this concoction.

Lays’ commercial shows us that Chinese men can get chips and chicks (well, momentarily).

The School Menu

This is what an international school’s menu looks like in China:

Main Entrees: Chicken & Cheese Fajitta, Pork Finger in Pepper Corn Sauce, American Fries, Broccoli

Main Entrees: Hash Chicken Patty Top Onion Gravy

I’m not too sure what a pork finger is – and I don’t want to. I would say the selection may need to change, or probably the person who translates the menu into English.

I have also seen “bacon debris” aka bacon bits on the school’s salad bar. Mmmm… delish!

The Hunt through Shanghai

From grooming dogs, working as a cashier clerk to making lamian (noodles) and crashing a stranger’s brunch – it was just a little Saturday in Shanghai.

Now don’t get me wrong – it was probably one of the most memorable sightseeing adventures in the city of 23 million people – and I have the photos to prove it.

It was part of a local charity’s scavenger hunt. Me, along with my fiancé, Adam and two of our friends – Jamey and Vicky took part in the event. We, along with 37 teams, ran all over the city to capture pictures of the crazy tasks at hand. We had four hours to complete our missions.

Some ranged from clipping your toe nails in public to posing with a fancy car, or show off your bellies. At least one team member had to be in a photo, sometimes all of us. It was a great way to explore, donate to charity (proceeds for entering went to it), enjoy friends and take (some) crazy photos.

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Holy Astronauts – Nunchucks will take down Typhoon Saola

Here’s the view from space of typhoon Saola (courtesy NASA)

What a view. A view from outer space. It’s a pretty incredible picture, although – even though this storm looks ominous, it will likely be heavy rain. I’m no Al Roker – who is annoyingly kind of funny, but makes you cringe because you just want to hear the forecast.

This sucker is known as typhoon Saola. Say that three times – Saola, Saola, Saola. Yes, it’s like using nunchucks to fight off the sound – kind of like me trying to speak Mandarin.

The U.S .Consulate General in Shanghai sent out this alert to U.S. citizens:

This Emergency Message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens residing or traveling in the Shanghai Consular District, which includes Shanghai, Anhui province, Jiangsu province, and Zhejiang province, that the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau is tracking Tropical Storms SAOLA and DAMREY across the East China Sea. At this time both storms are expected to make landfall along the southeastern coast of mainland China and are expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds across Shanghai and coastal areas of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces from August 1 to August 4, 2012.

I will say this – yes, Mom – I’m talking to you – it probably won’t be as bad as it sounds, or looks from the “astronauts'”vantage point.

I will phone home though.

And you better believe – the Chinese will be armed with umbrellas. Don’t worry, it’s almost like a third arm.

Goodbye blue sky and hot, sunny Shanghai days – hello, wind, rain and wellies (I’m not British, but it sounded better).

Real Blue Sky Days

The  past week – Shanghai has looked different. The haze that swallows the city has turned to blue sky. You can actually make out the clouds.

Last night, the sunset bounced off nearby buildings.

I walked around a park close to my home. I saw the regulars: people practicing Tai Chi, folks walking around their pajamas at 6:00pm, others staring at me because I look different than them, and plenty of kids running around.

It was one of those evenings where I say – it’s pretty cool to live here. It’s nice to see people enjoying the weather, enjoying the “outdoors” and enjoying life. It is refreshing.

The U.S. Consulate in Shanghai measures the air quality here – and for the past week it’s been good: http://twitter.com/cgshanghaiair

Thank you, mother nature for the blue sky – I truly appreciate it.

My Grocery Store Looks Like…

a pet shop.

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This is a glimpse of the seafood section of the Western grocery store that I go to. At this part of the store you can choose your bait, aka dinner. Yes, this is what fresh resembles in China. You can buy the live fish and take it home, or you can have someone clean it for you. My Chinese has not been perfected in this department, so I shy away. I know I would be carrying smelly, half-dead fish in a plastic bag. I’d likely get sick, so dinner would not happen. There is a section where you can buy just the meat, which I prefer. You can also purchase the fish head. Mmmmm… delicious. This is not for the weak stomachs (like mine).

Fortunately, this store has a lot of imported goods from the United States. You can find your Doritos, Kashi, salsa, granola bars, peanut butter, diet Pepsi (the China version tastes different) and frozen pizza. You know, all the things you should not have in your pantry. The only issue – some of these items are not always there. It goes in waves, so you may get excited that Cliff bars are available, but tomorrow and the next day – it probably won’t exist. Hungry Americans.

The nice part – they deliver. Although, I am not sure all of the Chinese understand temperature control. I’ve had melted ice cream and warm meat arrive. Those go into the trash and usually warrants an angry phone call.

The trials and tribulations of going to the supermarket in China.