Friday, December 28, 2007

Brazilian barbecue

It was the end of term and she'd made everything easy, I took my awesome Chinese Assistant teacher out to a place that advertisers as "Brazilian Barbecue."

Only option: buffet, with a complete salad bar (leafy greans are a rarity) but surprisingly little meat, just a pork-and-sauce thing and and a beef-and-bean thing sitting in chaffing dishes.

I skipped the raw salmon because the place was completely deserted, how long had that salmon been there.

Disappointed of meat, and embarrassed that my Chinese assistant was embarrassed that the place was so expensive, I sat down to have salad and stuff myself with beans in salsa (a first in China).

I noticed on our table a little list, presumably a separate entree that each of us could order. We could check the following:

Flank Steak
Eye Steak
Chicken Heart
Loin Strip
Heart of Loin Strip
Beef Rib
Sirloin Strip
Pork Shin
Pork Loin

I asked her to ask the waitress how we ordered our entree, and she disabused of this "pick one" notion.

Oh no my friend, we were getting EVERYTHING.

Spit after spit of bloody beef, greasy pork, barded chicken hearts and delicately spiced fish, were brought to our table by a cowboy-hatted waiter willing to cut as much as we'd like from each ten-pound hunk.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

There's only two more sleeps to christmas

I went to a German Buffet today. They had a string quartet playing christmas tunes. I drank a cup of strong coffee and a litre of beer, the first thing in my stomach all day, and nearly cried to hear christmas music for the first time this year.

It's not that beijing isn't christmassy (which the spellcheck agrees is a word, thank god), it's just that spray-painted "merry christmas" logos on the windows of japanese restaurants and mechanized santa mannequins in every shopping center doesn't really give one the feeling of home. I realized today that the 23rd was always my favorite day of Christmas. Walking around downtown, looking for a cooking utensil, not talking to anyone, drinking a movie theater. The unmortgaged time so rare in any other season.

I ate my first snail sausage, and they had chocolate mousse. It cost forty dollars for both of us. We were surrounded by germans telling restaurant horror stories about life in Beijing.

I started drawing again, learning about guidelines and proportions from a chinese Manga instruction book. I did some sketching at the table, eating one ginormous meal a day has an absurd effect on one's state of mind. I found a store last week that sold proper drawing books and those thick hexagonal sticks of graphite I love so well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Every Baby Cries the same

computer's back up, hi.

The chinese learning continues apace. By the end of August there's no reason I won't be able to puzzle out street signs, a menu, and possibly a child's book.

Everything, every sound that people make, sounds different here. Uhm ("oo"), ah ("uh"), hi ("eh?"), whoa ("ay"), uh ("dooey"). They all sound totally different. Different tone, different vowels.

Except coughing.

It's really weird to here someone cough. When I hear someone in a coughing fit outside my apartment window, my first thought is still "I thought we were the only white people on this block."

We got a christmas tree

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