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May 11, 2014 / windlessly

China Chronicles 5.11- Only While Abroad

20140506_203401I’m actually quite proud I got this set up- cheaper and dries better than the service at the laundry place next to our dorm. But I can’t really blame them- washing machines and dryers are hard to come by here, and with such limited space in their place and such high demand from students, they must have to be very time efficient with their washing and hanging. Plus, it was fun improvising with the hemp I usually use for bracelets and seeing if it would be strong enough to hold up all of my clothes. I ended up securing it around a cabinet door and a pipe that connects from my heater through the ceiling.

It turns out Chad was just as creative with his approach, though I still suspect that it’s actually a fantastic piece of modern art:

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More stories about food! Dining hall food is still holding up very well for me- the one thing that could be better is the temperature of the food being served, but with so many students and the need to make large batches of food at once to be efficient, I definitely sympathize with the dining hall servers. They still do an excellent job and I’m sure that when I return to the states, I will miss all the Chinese food here (until I return home to my mom and grandma’s cooking, of course =]).

20140424_181537Occasionally there will be something reaaaally good in the dining halls. So good that people wait in lines and rush to get to the dining hall within half an hour of opening to ensure a spot. We heard from a couple Peking University students of the famous “Campus Chicken Leg Over Rice” dish. Campus is the name of a dining hall, so Bryson, Kevin, Matt and I decided to scope it out. We got there twenty minutes after opening and were greeted by a line that already stretched to the back entrance. Evidently this seven yuan meal was something REALLY good. Initially unimpressed by a mound of rice, a portion of bean sprouts, some sauce and a fried chicken leg, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the meal- they had a special sauce, and the chicken leg was fried perfectly with the right amount of spiciness and pizazz. Mission accomplished.

20140507_111923Another cool thing that the program sets up are these “cooking classes,” which in actuality, are more like “eating classes.” Ryan, our wonderful program coordinator, sets us up in groups to visit the homes of neighboring families who are willing to let us into their kitchen and to try their home-style food. This time, Bryson, Galina, and I were lucky enough to visit someone who worked in a restaurant off campus, and were able to try our hand at making noodles! It was a fun time and I now have so much respect for mothers everywhere (and fathers too) who cook.

On that note, Happy Mother’s Day! (And to my mom: You have always gone above and beyond in caring for me. I love you so much!)

That sums it up nicely.

But cooking can be hard work and it definitely is a skill. It probably took us twenty intensive minutes of chopping carrots and cucumbers into slices (taking care not to dismember our fingers) where Mrs. Liu could’ve done it in a minute. It was funny because she kept mentioning that we were cutting the vegetables too thick, and that it wouldn’t be as good to eat for zha jiang mien (it ended up being true, but that’s okay). Now the actual noodle part was the most fun. We rolled out the dough again and again until it was flat as a sheet and bigger than the table we were working on, then rolled it out some more. The final process involved folding up the big sheet and then slicing apart individual noodle strands. So cool! And a lot of work, but definitely worth it.

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20140507_184902This is just me posing at the end. Mrs. Liu got impatient with us and ending up doing a lot of the actual work haha.

10336751_10203637480240417_2382821838738120574_nAnd finally, another recent fun thing that we get to do while abroad: continue the tradition of midnight showering for birthdays! We have four birthdays in the span of just a few weeks, and we already managed to get James. Things like this make me super grateful to have Stanford friends to hang around with constantly in the dorms.

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