Culture is often a hard thing to truly understand, and I am pleased to say that Alex and I get 1-3 doses of culture daily in its most digestible form– food. For every meal, we either get street food or eat in a restaurant. The reasons for this are two fold: one, we lack a stove
and an oven (95% of my recipes call for at least one); and two, eating out is super cheap here. In the closest restaurant to our apartment we can get two hot meals and two cokes for around $6. This results in us being able to try a lot of different kinds of food: hot pot, Chinese-Italian (which is pretty wacky), diner, dumpling store, build-your-own-soup, etc.
The other night, we decided to try a new restaurant across the street which we had referred to as the stone soldier restaurant based on the statues placed outside. When we entered we learned the genre of food–seafood– based on the large aquarium tanks on the back wall. In China it’s not uncommon to pick out your fish which will then be prepared for your dinner. Alex and I decided to go for a tamer option– a delicious pork dish and a side of garlicky string beans. While we were
talking about how much we liked our food, we hear a loud smack, and look over to see a fish flopping past our table. The waitress was chasing this fish who, being slated for death, was making his last bid for freedom as he had been picked up out of his tank. We laughed, the waitress laughed, and the fish was carried back to the kitchen. The thing we’ve learned from China is to always be ready for the unexpected.