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谢迈克在中国 » 2007» November

谢迈克在中国

Mike Shecket Goes To China!


So Friday night, I went out to eat with the foreign teacher crew, and after dinner we went to the fancy department store. We went up to the top floor where they had the fancy imported goods, and I decided to treat myself to a bag of penne pasta (15 yuan, or about $2) and a can of Del Monte spaghetti sauce (35 yuan, or almost $5).

Today, I decided to indulge and break out the good stuff for dinner. Aaaannd I chopped up a big onion and some garlic and sauteed them all nice…dumped in half of the bag of pasta. And it cooked…and mmm mmm looked good…meanwhile I tried to get the sauce can open (my current can opener is super lousy). The minutes went by…just a few more until the pasta was ready to go.

Then I started to see little bits and pieces floating to the surface. No prob, I thought, probably little burny things from the sauteeing in the same pot. I took my bamboo spatula, balanced one on the end, and flipped it into the sink. Another came up, and I did the same. Then I stopped to look at it. Sort of…segmented…with…appendages. Naahhh…I thought. It’s some kind of spice from one of the things I put in.

Then I took another one out. Rolled it between my fingers. This really does look like some kind of…ew. I checked the little glass jar of black pepper. Nothing suspect in there. Checked the cumin powder jar. Clean. Then I checked the bag of pasta…

ARRRRGGGHHH!!! Back in the bag, little dudes are still running around. BAD PASTA! BAD PASTA! Who knows if they’re Italian bugs or if they invaded the bag in China, but there went my meal, my $2 for half a kg of pasta, one big, decent onion and a few cloves of garlic, and my time, and my patience.

Now, since the sauce is already open, and hopefully clean since it’s been in an aluminum can all the way from the U.S., I’m making some rice. Rice & spaghetti sauce ain’t quite the same, but…

Come to think of it, the pasta bag had some Chinese on it. I’m pretty sure it said it was from Italy though…maybe it was imported in a big batch, left to sit around in a factory somewhere here and get infested, then bagged and delivered to all the hoity-toity imported foods floors of all the fancy department stores throughout the provinces.

Sigh…it wouldn’t have killed me to eat it. I just would have gotten some extra protein. I did boil it for ten minutes, after all. But still…some things are just beyond the pale for me. When I want pasta, I want pasta hold the creepy crawlies.

Annoyances and disappointments

November 11th, 2007

So yesterday afternoon, the power went out in our building. I think it went out for the whole school. The internet also went off, so I couldn’t use my laptop on battery power to let my folks know what was going on. So realizing that I was soon going to be in a cold, dark apartment with no hot water and no flashlight, I decided it would be a good time to have a little adventure and check into one of the nice hotels downtown. So here I am at the Nenghui Hotel, 4-stars, a fairly classy joint. But first off, I discover once I get into the room that the Internet’s out of commission here too. So I’m looking at missing the OSU game (though it turned out to be one that I suppose I didn’t want to see anyway), and I’m still out of touch with my family.

Next up, I discover that the elevators here play only one 30-second snippet of the same tune every time you ride them. It’s like a ringtone. It’s a famous solo piano piece and I think it’s not the Moonlight Sonata. Whatever it is, I really never, ever need to hear it again.

Then I went out to dinner. I got a tip from another teacher that there was a “Western-style” restaurant just around the corner from this hotel that had filet mignon, which I had been sorely missing. This was a huge disappointment for me in particular. If there’s two things that I don’t like to eat, it’s eggs and mushrooms (among a zillion other things). Also, if there’s a manner in which I don’t like to eat meat, it’s being reminded that what I’m eating came from a particular kind of animal. So here’s the meal I got:

  • A Coke. Fine, but overpriced at 20 yuan for a can (that’s more or less three bucks).
  • Cream of mushroom soup. Didn’t touch it (came with the steak, and I didn’t know if I could pick a soup).
  • Some kind of toast absolutely swimming in oil and egg. Made a token effort to try to put a tiny morsel in my mouth. It ended up back on the plate.
  • A tiny, tiny salad with a few leaves of lettuce, one ring of onion, maybe a tomato, and then some slices of melon. I don’t really like melon, but even if I did, I don’t want it in a salad with salad dressing.
  • Chicken Satay - not bad, but not great, and they didn’t bring it out with the promised peanut sauce…they brought out the super-intense Guizhou spice combo you can dip skewers into. I can take a bit of that, but not a lot, and darnit I wanted my peanut sauce!
  • The steak. First of all, they brought out a sizzling platter, and it was covered, and I was so excited! They uncovered it revealing the following:

    • One egg, sunny side up. I hate eggs! I don’t want to eat that crap!
    • Some totally unidentified weird looking black thing sitting in the egg white, later identified as…a mushroom.
    • A piece of broccoli that I totally would have wanted to eat, except it was also swimming in egg white.
    • A baby carrot - see above.
    • The steak itself…which was cut all weird, like an “X” with another little disconnected dollop, and looked like it was sort of from the right part of the cow, but it was obviously prepared by someone who would never think of eating such a thing him- or herself. I was able to get some okay stuff off of it, but the kicker was…
    • The whole shebang was delivered on a metal platter in the shape of a cow. It had a cow head, legs, a tail, and it was like you were eating out of the cow’s guts. Not what I wanted to see.



My friends, I know I’m a picky eater. I’m ridiculous really. But I was going out of my way, and paying basically $20, which is a lot here (considering you can get a meal for less than a dollar), and my expectations were all worked up and ohhhh man, was I disappointed.Yet somehow it felt good to face this kind of disappointment, absorb it, and move on. It just reminds me that all my little preferences and hangups aren’t that important, the $20 is just money, and life goes on. Sometimes stuff happens, but it’s okay, it can be dealt with.Oh…that piano piece is Für Elise. Yes, I never, ever need to hear that one again. Makes you want to take the stairs. Arrgh…and by the way, I’m on the sixteenth floor.

November 5th, 2007

Whoa, they changed the eye exercise music!  That, or they’re playing the old music way sped up.  It doesn’t sound very relaxing anymore.  I’ll have to get a copy of this music for you all.


Led Zeppelin (such as it is) reuniting?  Didn’t hear about that one until pretty much just now.

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