Culture Shock

Hot Fish for you, Hot Fish for Me

Szechuan cuisine is know for being hot, bold and flavorful. This style of
Chinese cuisine comes from the Sichuan province in southwestern China. The food is loaded with garlic, peppers and of course, the Sichuan Pepper.

Today, I was invited to try “hot fish.” We went to Spicy Hot Youhou(麻辣诱惑/Spice Spirit). The spicy fish soup was highly recommended, but I was warned my mouth would burn.

When the soup arrived, the aroma of many peppers and garlic filled the air. A whole fish was used in the large bowl brought to table. (I later found out we received the smallest fish available that day, which was still quite big even by Texas standards!)

3 slices of bread were brought by the waiter. For a moment I thought we were going to make fish sandwiches, but instead, the bread is used to absorb the oil from the fish. Fish was very tasty, though I did have to be careful with bones. The fish meat was tender and and each bite made my mouth burn a little more. My Chinese friends ordered dried plum (prune??) juice. It was not cold, but ice (冰, Bīng) was requested. The juice was very interesting. At first, the flavor was sweet, but the aftertaste reminded me of smoked BBQ, a very odd combination.

I would come here again. The staff was friendly, the menu had pictures and rough English translations. The restaurant was clean, well lit, and has beautiful decorations. Oh, and they bring a hour glass to show you that they will deliver the food to your table before the last grain falls through.

Where: 麻辣诱惑/Spice Spirt/Spicy Hot Youhou

How: Take line 10 and stop at Zhichunlu. Take exit B. Walk straight and at the first intersection, take a left ( Dazhongsi East Rd). Walk for about 6 minutes and the restaurant will be on your left.


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Sunny Sun Sun

Today is a sunny day (A rare sight in smoggy Beijing). I soak in the rays while walking to the subway. I throw on some shades to protect my eyes, but still relish in the warmth of Mr. Sun

Then I get smacked by an open umbrella.

There are no offending gray clouds in the sky. No scent of an incoming rainstorm.

What in the world…

Think about your last visit to Target. Most likely there was a row dedicated not only to sun block, but also to tanning oil. In the cosmetics aisles, you probably saw several types of bronzer, illuminator and body lotion that gives you a sun-kissed glow.

Here, it is the opposite. There are rows dedicated to whitening products: whitening masks, whitening creams, whitening deodorant, whitening foundation. . . You get the gist of it. The Chinese women I saw avoided the sun as if it were rain. They waited for the bus under the trees, the walked to the subway hiding under giant UV blocking umbrellas.

Maybe the influence comes from Japan and the geishas. Maybe the influence comes from South Korea. (Read here for a little more background.) Maybe this is just another current example of colorism. Fair skin is seen as youthful and/or representing success. Who has those “awful tans?” The working people. People in the streets. People in the fields. Thinking about it, this isn’t only in Beijing. Mexican soaps are another example. The rich, the successful, the elite, are portrayed with fair skin, colored eyes, and light hair. Chinese soaps seem to do the same, as do K-dramas (I’m kinda sorta a fan).

As with anything, moderation is key. Since a clear sky is a rare sight, I’ll enjoy the rays and get a much needed dose of Vitamin D.

Healthy glow!


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