Living in china and the 4 basic necessities

Taken from a conversation with a friend after a bout of food poisoning from some dumplings he ate the day before.

A: Honestly, I’m starting to be tired of Chinese food just because of that
-I’ve never had food poisoning in my life before coming to China
-And now this is like three times in the last year
-Pretty sure food poisoning isn’t really good for your body
B: Hahha… and the texture..
A: Nah but like so many sauces/spices/herbs
-You simply can’t taste the actual food anymore
-I think I’m definitely going stick with western food more and more
-Really makes you wonder why we like this country so much when it lacks so many of the very basics
-Food that doesn’t make you sick
-Water that doesn’t make you sick
-Alcohol that’s not fake
-Air that doesn’t make you sick
-I don’t think it gets more basic than that haha
-I can kind of understand why my friends don’t really want to visit me here

B: Food, air, water ….all makes you sick
-The only thing they’re missing is shelter that makes you sick
A: Oh I’m sure the shitty materials they use do
-And the fact that buildings just collapse every now and again
B: Oh yeah.. earthquakes… schools
(referring to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in which government built schools collapsed because the local gov was trying to save money by not meeting all required safety standards…apparently pocketing the difference)
-Wow…. china has it all

A: Although you may argue, death isn’t exactly sickness
B: Hahahahaha
-Yep that’s what the gov will argue…
A: Hey if you’re dead you’re not suffering
-And your family might even get money!
A: That’s the golden argument right there
-Moniessss !
B: Yep, Socialism with chinese characteristics!
A: What a lovely place

Water- It obviously not that China doesn’t have clean water, it’s just that it’s not available for free.
Air- you’ve seen the news.
Food- there’s a reason that the chinese go-to excuse for pulling a sick day is ‘拉肚子’ la duzi (diarrhea) instead of just saying…”I’m sick” … and that’s because it’s relatively common. Go figure.
Shelter- To be fair Chinese construction has got a lot better in recent years.  Although I think much of this came through trial-and error, a bit like Chinese medicine I guess. But either way this is improving.

What a lovely place.

So who is the illogical ones in this situation?

We are, the 2 foreigners having this conversation.
Because we both come from countries which have all these.
But in fact the reason why we’re here is because it’s almost as if our own countries are already good.  It’s gone through all the phases of progression and growth has now slowed down and relative to China everything is perfect….  too perfect.

But, its that reason why we’re here, because that is also boring to some regard.
We’re attracted to the madness of China.

The madness like explained above?  …not quite but still.

The madness of China is great, and as you see from the stories in this site there’s a lot of madness.

What a lovely place.

You’re so picky

Being picky
No, it’s called being selective!

Ok, so I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, but I’m writing it again because it gets me really annoyed… and of course, in my mind I’m justifiably right…because once again there’s a logical process.

What the hell am I talking about?

‘Being picky’ with food.

Or being picky with anything in fact.

I get this a lot when I’m in China, because there are indeed many things that Chinese people eat, where people elsewhere in the world wouldn’t dream of eating, or at least not in the way Chinese people do.

It’s quite ironic of course, …like many things in China, but you will often here ‘oh yeah, I like all kinds of foods’

And then you take someone to an India restaurant…and they’re unsure, and then say to you ‘oh actually this is pretty good’

Well, if you say you like all kind of foods…surely that’s based on something, like perhaps you’ve tried all kinds of foods

And when you say the word ‘actually’… essentially that’s calling to attention something that was proved to be different from what you thought it was.  So what was your predisposed thought for Indian food in that case?
That you weren’t going to like it perhaps?
That doesn’t sound like what a person who supposedly likes ‘All foods’ should be saying.

I’m guessing you’ve already guessed what they really mean, but they really mean is ‘I like all CHINESE foods’, …which of course isn’t really ALL foods now is it?

But going back to the picky thing, I often get this from Chinese friends, and sometimes to be honest Western friends that I go out with.

“you should pick the restaurant, because you’re so picky…“
“I can eat ANYTHING, so I’m fine with EVERYTHING”

You realize you shouldn’t be eating just ANYTHING right?, not everything is good for you.

Besides, we’re not living in the middle ages, or ..the middle of last century in China for that matter…we’re not JUST surviving, you can afford to CHOOSE something that you actually WANT to eat, not just something to put in your belly.

That’s something that really annoys me.

Yes, in fact I CAN technically eat doufu (toufu), and I can technically eat organs, and I can technically eat meat that is 90% fat, but I don’t WANT to. I don’t like the taste, and more than that, when there are other things on offer that taste much better, that are more healthy for you, especially when I’m going to be paying for it (this is not some kind of dare or something)….then I’d rather eat those things that I actually WANT to eat.

Do you even know why people eat toufu?   Its because back when however long ago it was, when people didn’t have enough money to buy meat…with all the necessary proteins in it, they found that the beans that is used to make toufu has a high degree of protein, …it doesn’t really taste like anything, but at least it was better than not eating anything and not getting this protein.

Now that we’re in a situation that we don’t HAVE to eat a bland substitute for meat, my preference at least….is that I will not CHOOSE to do so.  I’ll stick with the meat thank you very much.

Organs is another thing.  Back in the days when again, you were eating all the scraps of the meat, all the scraps of everything because there was so little food….yeah, that makes sense… but now, given the fact that I have a choice in the matter, especially given the fact that I don’t think it tastes very nice or has a strange texture….i’m going to choose to eat something different.

What amazes me is that the Chinese word for organs is 内脏 (nei zang) .
It literally means ‘Inner/ inside   Dirty’.
Isn’t that already a pretty strong clue that you shouldn’t be eating it??

In many Western countries this is considered garbage. We just scoop it out and put it in the bin.

How is it that people have the audacity to say… ‘oh you’re being picky’ ??

Or ‘you’re so picky’

Because I don’t want to eat varying degrees of shit?

Errr…. First of all… that’s idiotic.

Picky of course has the connotation of something bad, but I think the word that is more appropriate is ‘selective’.

I am selective in what I want, in the fact that I actually know to some degree what I want to eat, and what I want to do.  And moreover I don’t see that as a bad thing whatsoever.
And so I find it illogical that other people do.

Imagine- would you like to eat garbage item no. 1, garbage item no. 2, or this steak over here with green beans and mash potato?

I don’t think I’m really being unfair, lets take an example of what garbage item no. 1 & garbage item no. 2 might be.   We’re not even going to go into the obvious Chicken feet, and duck face, or ‘young boy pee egg’  – yes that is a real thing.

  1. 回锅肉 – (hui guo rou) literally ‘again pot meat’, or twice cooked pork.

How is this dish cooked?   I’m not making this up, I did a cooking class in Sichuan with my family, and this is how it went- take some pork which is anywhere between 50% & 70% fat, cut it up into thin slices, cut some leeks (green shit) into inch size pieces, green pepper the same, get some chilli powder ready, as well as your trusty MSG & salt, and then put a ‘generous’ serving of oil into the wok….

Yes you would think… hey but the pork is 50% fat, surely I don’t need oil.  Yes that’s exactly what my dad thought.. which is why he tried to teach the Chinese teacher how to cook a more healthy dish after she showed him her version of ‘Oil is good’

Wack the oil in, put the overly fatty pork in, stir still its turned grey…(not crisp or brown), add the vegetables in, then just chuck in the spices, and MSG and all the other stuff.

And serve.

What does it taste like?  That taste is not so bad.. but you’re essentially eating oil. , so in the same way that French fries taste pretty good… it is essentially oil.
So for health reasons… and the fact that while Chinese bodies may have the genes that process copious amounts of oil, my simple Western body does not.

Recipe for 回锅肉 twice cooked pork
This recipe has been toned down, to make it seems less unhealthy, but trust me the real Sichuan version is not good for you)

  1. 土匪鸭饭 (tu fei ya fan)- literally ‘Bandit duck rice’

It just duck cut up…wait, sorry, I don’t mean cut up nicely, I mean the duck has been smashed up with the clever, so that its got loads of jagged bones in it, served with spices especially something called ‘麻‘ basically being a spice that makes your tongue go numb.  And then some beans thrown in, some remnants of bones, and then served over rice.

(that’s what I ordered today by the way. I read ‘duck’ & over rice and thought …well I don’t know what ‘bandit’ translates to in terms of food… but I’ll try.)

Not all pain is gain.

Here are some others just in case the above made you hungry:

夫妻肺片 fu qi fei pian (popular Sichuan dish made of thinly sliced beef and beef offal)

爆炒肝尖 – bao chao gan jian (quick fried liver)

毛血旺- mao xue wang (duck’s blood, beef and tripe [stomach lining] in spicy soup)

酸辣汤 – suan la tang (vinegar pepper soup)  To be honest I’e never had this, or perhaps I purposefully wiped it from my memory, because a friend says he’s never met a foreigner that liked it.


Also being ‘picky’ or selective is never a bad thing when it comes to other things not involving food, so why do people get so anal when it comes to food?

Why don’t you take the garbage man job?
Err… because I’ve got a degree in Engineering, and given the choice I think I’d rather hold out for an engineering job.
But that garbage man job is a job, why don’t you just have a try at that, you may like it.
Again, I think I’m capable of making my own decisions, and given those choices…I think I’ll take the engineering job.

This person is clearly selective, not picky. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Wait, wait, wait…. I think I’ve got it, maybe people just don’t have the vocabulary.

Maybe that’s it, because they can’t all be illogical idiots right?


Smelly toufu – chou doufu (臭豆腐)

For those of you that don’t know what this is, its not just me making up words

The Chinese actually translates to smelly (or bad smell) tou fu.

It’s this thing that they normally sell outside subway stations, which smells god-awful, if you walk past or just come out of the subway… you usually involuntarily let out a  “ahhh what that f**k?” as you quickly try to cover your nose with your scarf or hand or something.

I don’t quite understand this but they most often sell it during winter.

The ‘advantage’ over normal toufu, is that this is fried, and so it has less of that terrible squishy texture that soy bean curd always has…however..

The ‘aroma’ is incredibly strong, I would say its on par with the smell of excrement, not smelling the same but on the same level in terms of foul nose harassment, but just 1 level under the smell of vomit, but let me stress it is strong. Even if you’re 10 meters away you can smell this stuff.

So how does it taste?

I’ve literally heard many people say this, “oh yeah it smells like shit, but actually the taste is not so bad”

First of all I wonder… if they admit that it smells like shit… why come to the conclusion that this is something that they want to eat?

Surely, and I use that word delicately now, surely when you smell something that is just terrible, the natural animal reaction is to get away from that smell as soon as possible?

Humans are animals, and I realise we are capable of ignoring our animal instincts, but most of them are pretty useful in saving us from general forms of danger.  You hear a loud roar and it scares you.. you run away. Similarly, even animals poo away from where they eat, because obviously it smells bad, but also because it can carry disease and if somehow you manage to eat it … it causes dysentery.

Animals have managed to figure this out, why go against our animal instincts when it seems these are there to protect us?

And going back to this quote “oh yeah it smells like shit, but actually the taste is not so bad”

I would hope that if something smells that damn terrible, and in the end you actually do choose to eat it, it had better taste amazing. Otherwise… surely it’s not worth it right?

If something tasted just average but it smelt terrible, I think the logical choice would be to eat something that tastes average but doesn’t smell like shit.

Ideally you would want to eat something that smells great and tastes amazing, but forgoing that, surely anything that smells on par with shit, should have to taste damn amazing if you’re going to choose to eat it. And moreover pay money for it.


One time when I was in a restaurant in Beijing, ….. very seedy place, but unfortunately most ‘cheap and cheerful’ restaurants in Beijing, and pretty much all over China are like this…

But anyway, just ordered some Niu rou chao fan (beef fried rice) when a rat , a really massive rat came running out of the kitchen and ran up the wall and into the rafters of the restaurant.
I would suppose… if this kind of thing would happen in other places, it would be mixed with first commotion and yelling in the kitchen, followed by… I don’t know some sort of acknowledgement to the customers.
Instead, Nothing.
When we told them what we’d just seen the waiters just laughed at us.
‘Oh silly foreigners….of course there’s rats in here… what do you think you’ve been eating all this time?,   yes we know we say beef, or lamb, or whatever….but you should know by now it’s all rat’

I really hope this is not the case

dog food should not be used inside human food

A long time ago I was studying hard for my HSK 4 test, I chose a quiet café next to university where students were not in pointless competition to drink themselves under the table despite not actually competing against anyone in particular.

I was on a good studying streak, things were starting to sink in… so I though fuck it I’ll eat dinner here.
Yeah, it’s a chinese café, and the coffees taste a bit shit, but on the plus side they have a menu with Western stuff on it.  How can I go wrong?   – (yes, it was probably illogical of me, knowing what I know from living in China to just utter those words in the first place)
I ordered Lasagne.  — kind of thinking to myself, how can they fuck this up, you have to pasta on it, cheese, and it says niu rou (beef).
Yep.  I was wrong.
It was probably the worst lasagne I have ever tasted.  I kept prodding it, looking at it like it was verbally offending me…. FUCK  de goo ton disgusting!
It tasted like it was made from that disgusting pork that you find selling out the front of subway stations.
You know the one I mean… the one’s selling right next to the smelly doufu, where with either one you have to cover your nose because its that bad.
It’s the meat that a friend feeds to his dog.  And just like eating dog food…its probably not damaging to human health…  but that doesn’t make it a good fucking idea.
When I confronted them about it, after I just couldn’t pretend that what I was eating was food anymore, they said  ‘oh no it is beef, you see’
The girl even went into the kitchen to check.
That was either that crappy pork sausage or rat or something..  Terrible!

Then she said something as if to shift the blame onto me, ‘oh but in fact you’re the first foreigner to complain, all the other foreigners have no problem eating this’

‘Yeah but were they drunk?’   I mean in reality let’s give them a little credit, ….this tastes like shit…. How drunk could they be?   ….oh wait, all the bars have fake alcohol….. the answer is VERY.

As to how they could pass this shit off as food I have no idea.
But one thing is certain they are all dicks


Chinese strange snacks

Someone brought in a bunch of these things into the office one day and shared them about.

yummy chinese food 1yummy chinese food 3

yummy chinese food 2Very thoughtful and interesting to try, but unfortunately the end result is a no from me.

The thing is my colleagues knew it was weird because they watched me try them.

The long white one covered in sweet chilli kind of flavour has the texture of a tyre, incredibly rubbery and gives you the feeling that there is no nutrition in there in any regard. In fact it begins smelling like a burnt tyre after a while, and that’s when I gave up.

The other one I tried was seemingly just a bunch of chilli moosh mashed into the shape of a square. Mmmm  appetizing.

There were a few others, but if 2 out of 2 was not my thing, and the rest looked and smelled more or less the same, that’s me done.

This is just a casual wondering by now, because Chinese people are seemingly not going to stop with their love of eating things that other cultures find strange, but with so many great foods out there, why go out of your way to make foods that are incredibly strange?
Especially with no clear merits in any way….it wasn’t particularly spicy, sweet, yummy, satisfying in terms of texture, it had no nutrients.
It’s the equivalent of eating dried spaghetti and claiming it’s a famous snack.
And don’t tell me I’m picky by the end of it.
Yes given a choice I’d rather not eat it, because it doesn’t do anything for me.
You don’t eat things ‘just because’. Surely there’s some reason for it?

Oh well, the girl that works opposite me just continually woofed them down, so at least she was happy.


Chinese spoons

How could a spoon by illogical I hear you asking?

Take a look at this….  (red)spoon

And then take a look at this….. (silver)soupspoonwestern

What are each of them used for?   Soup… yes you’d be right, but you might also be thinking.. what happens if I needed to eat something other than soup?

Well here’s a normal spoon from other countries. I want to try to refrain from saying ‘Western countries’, because its basically all countries except for China.

spoon-03Easy for scooping up pretty much anything, apart from soup.

But the Chinese spoon is still the same red one.

I understand that they of course use chopsticks for anything including rice, but that’s usually for white rice that is sticky. For fried rice you often get the spoon.

It is incredibly difficult to eat with this, unless you somehow manage to scoop up the food from inside the spoon with your top lip.

Scooping is why we wanted the spoon in the first place, we don’t want to do it again!

However, it seems some people here have simply got used to this and do exactly what I described above, and their top lips have become very good at scooping food from their spoon.


Or… just …get another spoon!

Not everything has to remain traditional. Audis, skyscrapers, and KFC weren’t traditional Chinese culture, so my questions is:
If you can change everything else, why do you have to keep these stupid spoons?

Here’s a lovely little link, quite funny. (it’s from youtube, & the video quality is terrible but its the audio that counts)

Jerry Seinfeld – the Chinese & spoons

or…. just listen to it below, audio taken from the same youtube video

America… F%# Yeah!

A friend went to study in America, after 6 months she came back and was asked the normal questions, how is America? How are the people? Are you making friends? How is the food?

Her answer… “there is no good food there”
‘What?!?     What de what?  , what the hell are you talking about?  What did you try?  America possibly has some of the best food in the world.  Pizza, better than the Italians, French food… more or less equal to the French. They can afford to employ the best people because they all crave the best food…   what?!?
“Yes, and she even saw a mouse in one of the kitchens once”
–Yeah well that is bad.  Especially on the first semester… but if you compare to China… where baby formula can kill you in an instant, where I see giant rats in the kitchen, where there’s always some article about gutter oil, or cat meat, or fake eggs….surely America is not so bad in the end.  They do actually have health inspectors… (to be fair I believe china does too, it’s just that they can be bought off more easily- yes I am inferring that American health inspectors can be bought off)

It seems everyone who says these kinds of things:  (in whiney voice )ooooh America has no culture, America has no good food, well,… yeah……there’s food there, but it’s all burgers and pizzas…. All the people in America are fat and disgusting, why would anyone want to go there?’ 
Have you been there fucktard?
….. I’m going to take a logical stab in the dark here and say that.. you’ve never been to America.  Right!?
Or if you have been, you’ve been to someplace like New York, which in all accounts isn’t the real America, New York is quite far removed from America, in my opinion.  Just as people dream about going to Paris, rather than France, people also dream about going to NY instead of the USA.  People dream about these places because other people tell them to dream about these places, not because these people actually know anything about it, or had any desire to go to these places originally.  Weakk….

What was I meant to be talking about?   Oh yeah that’s right.
Before you go off and say more cliché things like: ‘I don’t understand why Americans don’t travel abroad’… or ‘most of them haven’t even got a passport’
(Hammer time)
Again, Mr & Mrs fucktard, ….if you’d been there you would understand.
America is a fucking awesome country!    The reason why Americans don’t travel abroad is because they feel like they should travel around America a bit first.  Once you start travelling around America, you don’t want to stop.
Did I mention great food?
Nice people, a range of awesome sceneries… Yosemite, Yellow stone national park, Bryce canyon, Seattle, L.A.  Disney Land?
This is a country that because of its sometimes stupid laws, (and I’m glad I’m not a citizen of this country), ….. such as its gun laws,   you can turn this to your advantage.
Ever fired an AR15 assualt rifle?  No? most countries wouldn’t allow you to get anywhere near one…. Not in America.  Make it a thing to do.  More enjoyment for travelling America!

Oh and the culture, that you say there’s none of?  What do you think is the thing people are afraid of spreading around the world? American hegemony?  Yeah… this is part of the culture.
Don’t be so quick to judge other people, when it’s clear to outsiders that you are not rational or open enough to go out there and try new things or to figure out the answers for yourself

Broccoli curry impossibility

Asked the local restaurant laoban, which we go to all the time as it’s right next to our work, to put my favourite dishes together, curry chicken and broccoli.
So in 1 dish, not having to pay for a large broccoli dish for 3 people, and a large curry dish.
She looked at me like I was asking her to go to the moon or something.

“This is not possible” she said.   “Do you know how to cook broccoli?”, as if it was some magical knowledge that only the greatest chefs had mastered.
“Yeah I know, you put the broccoli in boiling water and wait”
She looked at another waitress, told her what I wanted, and she too looked at me, wide gaping eyes, like it was completely impossible.
And then started laughing together.
(Silly foreigner thinks he knows how to cook broccoli.)

I told her afterwards, “if I can do it, …a little bit of broccoli, then mix into the chicken…. Then I’m pretty sure you can do it”  (you know, especially as this is your chosen profession)
She wouldn’t have any of it.
In the end I got the damn chicken, and the broccoli for 3, and made a point of mixing it in whenever she walked past, muttering things to myself like
“oh this is so easy..”, “I could probably do this in the kitchen”
Fucking retarted!