Monday, November 23, 2009

Yet Another Shaanxi Noodle

Wednesday, November 18th
Pavan came in to the Active office again so she got to come for lunch. We still haven't run out of foods to try; every lunch meal is new! For Wednesdays lunch we endeavored to have rice noodles at Nan Yao Tou. Unfortunately it was full so we were forced to go elsewhere. On the way we saw the dough prep for production of some sort of deep fried street bread

We also got a picture of a gentlemen operating what can only be described as steam tower. A pile of trays of things to steam are placed over a bowl of water over a ... can of fire basically. Typically coal is burnt in Nan Yao Tou.

There is a variant of a Ròu Jīa Mó where you get a sandwich stuffed with non-meat stuff. We saw the prep work for this but didn't get a chance to try it.

We wound up at a place having a new type of noodles, whose name we have thus far failed to get in Mandarin. Apparently the name is basically "pot of noodles in water". They are rather large, long, noodles. You grab from the communal bowl, desperately strive to chopstick them into your personal bowl of soup stuff (tomato, egg, pickled things), and then eat. They are rather good. They are also by a large margin the most difficult thing to eat with chopsticks we have had thus far. Our hands ached from using unfamiliar muscles by the end of it

The purchasing process for these noodles is interesting. You order each bit individually. Each bowl of dipping soup costs ¥1 and each individual noodle costs ¥1 so for the four of us it cost ¥17 for four bowls of dipping soup and thirteen noodles. We were staggered by the price; even for Nan Yao Tou it was really really cheap!

During lunch we learned that the mysterious practice of lighting fires on roads is a way to pay respects to your ancestors. A special type of money (not fungible) is purchased and burned so your ancestors can spend it in heaven.

For dinner we went out with the Chinese lady who is hopefully going to help Pavan with Chinese cooking, Christina, and her husband, a Ph.D student at North West Polytechnic.

We went to a place right by our building for dinner. This turned out to be another village, like Nan Yao Tou (though generally less nice). Dinner was rather good, and trying to converse was quite fun as our hosts spoke minimal English (and have minimal opportunity to practice). After dinner we went back to their apartment, which is in another tower in the same building complex as ours, and hung out for a bit. Apparently such an apartment costs ¥700,000! Luckily for our new friends it was a gift from the husbands parents when they got married. We also noticed that basically everything about their apartment was better built than ours. It seems that while shoddy attention to detail is very common it is not universal. If only Active's apartments for foreigners department was a bit more detail oriented...

Thursday, November 19th
It was a pretty quiet day. We worked late and then crashed. The highlight was definitely lunch at Nan Yao Tou. We admired the steam trays once again and got a chance to try the sandwich stuffed with non-pork stuffs. This turned out to be some noodle-type things, veggies, and some hot peppers stuffed into the nice fresh bun. It is a rather delicious combination.

For our entrée we managed to get the rice noodles we failed to get the day before. These show up nicely arranged and then you mess them up to get spicy sauce over them. Yet another delicious Shǎnxī noodle!

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