Monday, April 5, 2010

April 4th: Settlers and Baozi

First of all, happy Easter to everyone!  As I mentioned in another post, I celebrated during the week by dying eggs in front of my students in class.  Of course, Easter is not a holiday here, but it just happened to conincide this year with a three-day weekend anyhow!  Tomorrow, Monday, is the Qingming Festival, which is usually translated "Tomb-Sweeping Day."  It was the custom since ancient times to go out on this day and clean the cemeteries to honor to memory of the dead.  It seems to me to be something like our Memorial Day nowadays.  Anyhow, I don't have to teach tomorrow. 

This afternoon, I went over to Tabby and Casey's to hang out for a while. There were quite a few people there when I arrived, and we had a good time singing some songs together, and Casey told us a story about a man named Job.  Finally, most people left to go find supper elsewhere, but a few of us stayed.  Evelyn had brought some soup, and after we'd eaten we settled in for a round of Settlers of Catan.  We drew cards--red and black--to decide how to split up eight people into two tables.  I played the first game against Tabby, Evelyn, and Lee.  Although it was only my second time to play, I managed to just barely beat Tabby to the longest road points and won.  The game is a little complicated at first, but now that I have the hang of it I really like it.  We played again, and this time I was against Tabby, Casey, and Jordan, with Casey winning that round.  Mr. Wong won both rounds at the other table.  Mr. Wong openly admits he's gotten addicted to the game; he certainly plays enthusiastically.  He'd gladly play all evening, or at least until his wife calls and fusses because he's still not home. 

After we finished playing and talking, I walked out to the road with Ron and Evelyn.  Before catching a taxi, I decided to stop and get some take-out food from one of the restaurants near the city gate.  I really need to go grocery shopping, and I knew I didn't have much around the house to eat tomorrow otherwise.  Ron had stopped to buy some boiled peanuts, so while Evelyn and I were waiting near the street I saw a booth where a man and woman were making baozi.  The restaurant was on the corner, and in front all the tables and stools had been set out on the sidewalk to enjoy the spring weather.  Around the side, the baozi-making station was against the wall, and a grilling area was closer to the street.  Baozi are a type of dumpling made with a thin piece of dough which is stuffed (in my case, with a mixture of ground pork and spiced cabbage, although there are many other types, too) and then folded and crimped.  The dumplings are loaded into shallow wooden trays, which are stacked and then put over a steamer to cook.  The resulting smell is wonderful.

The waitress who was helping me didn't speak any English, but I managed to get her to understand by pointing to the baozi cooking station that I wanted some, and that I wanted enough for only one person.  I tried to use charades to get her to understand that I would prefer them to go--they had styrofoam boxes waiting.  She directed me to a nearby table to wait.  She had a teenage busboy come by and tell me 'wait five minutes!' Apparently a foreigner buying baozi was a novelty; all the waitresses and busboys came by to see me; at one point, I had a crowd of at least ten people gathered around me.  The waitress and a busboy working together remembered the English word for 'ten' to tell me the price.  A bit later one of the busboys ran back inside the restaurant and came back out and said, "pack?...'p'..'a'..'c'..'k'?"  He spelled it out in case he'd mispronounced it.  Yes, I want them packed! Great!   After a bit of a wait (longer than the five minutes originally predicted), I was presented with a bag with two cartons of baozi. 

I hopped into a taxi at the curb, and thankfully my pronunciation of my home campus's name seems to have improved.  The driver understood me immediately; often before I've had to repeat it a few times before the driver could understand for sure where exactly I wanted to go.  I tried out a couple of the baozi once I got home; I took a picture so you could see what I'm talking about.  The other picture isn't mine, but I found it online to show you what the steaming looks like.  The baozi are pretty good, although the spice is a bit unusual to me.  I hope that the rest will be good warmed up! 


Anonymous said...

The online pictures do not show up on everyone's computer-I wish I could see some of these at times like the group picture.

Post a Comment