Friday, November 13, 2009

Day to Day in Shaanxi

Aside from losing the gas unexpectedly day to day life is quite fun. We get to try new foods on an almost daily basis!

On the 12th we got to try another Shaanxi specialty:
Yang Rou Pao Mo. It is mutton - a rather small amount of it - in a soup broth packed with little bread chunks. There is also a small amount of vermicelli. A spicy sauce is then dumped into it and it is served with a side of what appear to be pickled garlic cloves. Ones breath after is no doubt delightful. It is rather good.

In the evening Pavan made dinner again. There is a little store at the bottom of one of the towers in our building complex that sells veggies, what appear to be homemade uncooked noodles, sauce, and pre-made dumplings. We had the egg and tomato (Xi Hong Shi Chao Ji Dan) dish, some noodles, and some green beans cooked with a beer-sauce. This was very good. So good we have to post a picture (so you can see the deliciousness).

On the 13th Pavan came along to the Active office. We managed to get to the office by saying the location instead of just pointing to Chinese characters in a notebook. Although the cabbie looked a little bit amused at our pronounciation he took us! At lunchtime we took a group of eight or nine out for lunch and managed to pay for it. Co-workers have a habbit of trying to pay for us which makes us feel bad as we know local salary scales make this a much bigger deal for them than us. Anyway, Rod managed to pay and as always Nan Yao Tou pricing was marvelous: ¥85 (a bit less than $14) for nine dishes and rice for everyone. We got pictures of a number of our favorite dishes and then the camera ran out of batteries.

Shǔi Zhǔ Ròu Piàn - spicy boiled pork dish
"shway jew row pee-en"

Lian Cai - lotus root
"lee-ann tsai"

Húi Guō Dōng Guā - boiled then fried starchy vegetable. Not sure what vegetable.
"hway goo-ah dong gwa"

Yú Xiāng Ròu Sī - Asparagus Lettuce apparently. Little strips of veggie w/some meat.
"you she-ang row Ss"

Yě Shān Jiāo Chǎo Ròu Mò - VERY spicy celery pork
"yeah shun gee-ow chow row moo-wa"
Jiāo - pepper
Yě Shān Jiāo - wild pepper from mountain

We bought more batteries from a local vendor but unfortunately despite being labelled AA 1.5V they refused to power the camera.

In the afternoon we got co-workers to write out the name of many of our favorite dishes and pronounciation guidelines.

     Shǒu Sī Bāo Cài - cabbage dish we had w/rice for lunch
    "show Ss bow tsai"

ǔi Zhǔ Ròu Piàn - spicy boiled pork dish
    "shway jew row pee-en"

úi Guō Dōng Guā - boiled then fried starchy vegatable. Not sure what vegatable.
    "hway goo-ah dong gwa"

Húi Guō - double-cooked, specifically boiled then fried
        Dōng Guā - the vegatable

ě Shān Jiāo Chǎo Ròu Mò - VERY spicy celery pork
    "yeah shun gee-ow chow row moo-wa"

Jiāo - pepper
ě Shān Jiāo - wild pepper from mountain

ú Xiāng Ròu Sī - Asparagus Lettuce apparently. Little strips of veggie w/some meat.
    "you she-ang row Ss"

We have started accumulating all our Mandarin on a Google Docs page. This is published for the world to enjoy at; we will be updating it as we learn more. In the afternoon we sent an email out asking for co-workers who`d be interested in spending 30-60 minutes with us teaching Mandarin and got four or so respondants so far. The plan is to rotate through instructors doing one lesson each workday. Hopefully this will dramatically increase our vocabulary. Our new knowledge will be posted on the google document referenced above. With any luck we`ll also start to get the hang of the four tones. Presently when advised to say something in the upward tone, downward tone, or whatever we tend to have a great deal of trouble executing. Luckily most of the time there is enough context (we are at a restaurant ordering food, clearly we mean pork not grandfather clock or whatever the wrong intonation might mean) in most of the situations we need to speak in that we can get away with being pretty brutal on the tones.

We heard about a Shaanxi specialty of a sort of pork sandwich. The pork sits in a vat simmering away and is then pulled out, chopped up with pork fat (you can opt out of the fat if you wish), and served in a sandwich. It is apparently as famous as Yang Rou Pao Mo. Our notes regarding how to pronounce this and order it follow; as yet these are untested:

     Lǎo Tóng Guān Ròu Jīa Mó Chún Shòu - Shaanxi specialty. Pork sandwich. As famous as Yang Rou Pao Mo.
Lǎo Tóng Guān - apparently confusing to explain
Ròu Jīa Mó - literally Ròu: pork Jīa: sandwiched in/in the middle of Mó: bread
Chún Shòu - without fat; typically fat poured over

     Chún Shòu Ròu Jīa Mó - how to order the pork sandwich.
                          - could also use
Ròu Jīa Mó Chún Shòu but may confuse vendor.
    "chwan show row gee-ah mwa"

In the evening Pavan went to buy some groceries and ran into a lady who apparently lives in one of the buildings nearby and might be willing to help teach Chinese cooking. Fingers crossed that this works out!! The local grocery store sells Tsing Tao (pronounced more or less "ching dow"), a local beer that is quite good, for ¥3 ($0.5) per 500ml bottle!

Tomorrow we aspire to reach the Shaanxi History Museum through verbal direction to the cab driver. The phrase and pronounciation is:

     Lì Shǐ Bó Wù Gǔan - Shaanxi History Museum
    "lee sh-ugh bwa woo gwan"

If spoken Mandarin fails us we also have it written in characters in a notebook.

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