Cilantro by Bicycle

Some of you may not know this, but I am myself a big blog junkie.  One of the first blogs I ever got hooked on was a food blog (helloooo, my Skype name is gracelikespies, for pete’s sake!) called Chocolate and Zucchini.  Chocolate and Zucchini is written by an adorable French lady named Clotilde who proclaims that the best way to experience a different culture is to go grocery shopping.  Boy, is she brilliant.  If you think about it, it’s not something anyone would think to do while on a vacation or assignment in a different country, but it completely makes sense.

Today, I was rattled by the pre-first-day teacher jitters and was holed up in my apartment all morning.  After four hours of writing, rewriting, revising, and rethinking my lesson plan and calendar for the semester, I decided that enough was enough and took out my trusty bike for a ride around town.

This is the first time I’d been out on a random ride during daylight, so I noticed a pathway that ran along a small ravine and decided to venture down it.  To my surprise, a few minutes later I was in front of a huge market bustling with lots of locals.  DING DING DING JACKPOT!  This usually means lower prices and, sometimes, better produce.  It was such an experience!

I didn’t want to be an obnoxious tourist so I withheld every urge I had to take pictures of everything and made sure to buy produce from every stand I did take pictures at.  I managed to get by with the little Chinese I know and even met a really sweet girl selling peppers who was convinced I was Chinese until I explained that my mom and dad are from Korea, but I’m American.  She told me she went to Korea for 1 month and when I asked if she knew any Korean, she said (what else?) “Ahnyonghaseyo.”

The spice lady who I bought some mushrooms from thought it was hilarious that I wanted to take a picture of her and her stand, but smiled big for me anyway.

I arrived with just over 10 RMB and spent almost all of it, but got a ton of groceries!  Next up—I’ll experiment with some recipes.  I’m thinking of making a green grape, orange, and cilantro salad with honey and salt.  Then a chicken broth soup with mushrooms, onions, cilantro, red pepper and noodles!  I’ll let y’all know how they turn out… and hopefully eating all this cilantro will finally keep the mosquitoes away.

P.S.  The blue skies were short-lived… we’re right on back to gray, gray, gray, and even a little brown.  BROWN!!  Oh, goodness… brown skies are not natural.

P.P.S.  I almost forgot to tell you about one of my new favorite people in Beijing.  Unfortunately, I don’t know his name, but he is referred to as “Number 67” where he works.  It sounds nuts, but he is a foot skin specialist of sorts.  The photo I have here is of him scraping the dead skin off of my feet (yup, those are my stubby calves).  He said he is 20 years old, but Dana told me she thinks he’s 17.  In any case, he alone is worth the trip to Wudaokou… I’ve already decided I’m taking everyone who visits me to see him.  An added bonus—he can cure ALL foot ailments!  There are more than you think, believe me!

P.P.P.S.  I start teaching on Monday!  Please keep me in your thoughts and I’ll let you know how it goes!

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2 Comments

Filed under Travel and Transport

2 responses to “Cilantro by Bicycle

  1. Toshi

    Everything in that market looks so colorful and vibrant! And I’m also happy that you found some comfort in the Korean market. Every little bit of familiarity is a comfort in an unfamiliar place. Even spam.

    Have an exciting time trying out new recipes and eating your creations!

  2. Pamela Chang

    Your photos are beautiful. And just to let you know, I have my own Number 67. His name is Lynn, and he massages my feet. Plus, he doesn’t even charge me — it’s part of our marriage pact. : ) Lynn says it’s not part of our marriage pact — he would do it anyway.

    We miss your big smile. We’re thinking of you!

    Love, Lynn and Pam

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