Asia, Food, Travel

Tea & Tongues

I’m finally coming out of the fog that is jet lag. I have been on a time zone that is nearly 12 hours our opposite for about three weeks now, so it’s a little difficult to switch back over. People always ask me what jet lag feels like. So, let me explain it. Right now, in Cambodia/Laos/Thailand, it is 1 in the morning (in Beijing, it’s midnight). So, imagine eating a meal like you would have for lunch (today, mine was chilaquiles. Think: chicken, tortillas, enchilada sauce, and eggs) at midnight, then staying up all night and eating a dinner meal for breakfast, then going to sleep and trying to sleep for 8 hours (which would be daytime there/nighttime here). I’m confused. And, so are you. So, jet lag feels like confusion. Which it is. It is your body’s response to flip-flopping your schedule. You are mentally wrestling with your physiological responses. Your body says it’s time to sleep and you have to make your brain say: I’m not sleeping now.

So, did I mention I found something “Made in America” in China? Glad to know they import something from us.

It said: A True American Tradition

It said: A True American Tradition

China is weird. I didn’t tell many stories from there mostly because I didn’t have good access to a lot of the sites I frequent. The VPN allowed a little bit of access, but connections were difficult. The government censorship is crazy there. There were microphones in all the taxis, monitoring what you were saying. Secret police are common and there are cameras everywhere. I know this all sounds hyper-paranoid. But, it is real. So, we had to watch what we said and did. I didn’t really believe that was true before I went, but once you are there, the truth of it kinda sits on you. It’s a silent restraint and you can feel it. That’s the best way I can describe it.

But, enough of that, let’s talk about the duck tongues. Having dinner with friends is fun. I really like it when they order and I don’t have to choose because I dislike decisions and because you always end up getting something more authentic that way. Peking duck is famous in Beijing, so it was a must. My friend, Sammy, took us to have it and unbeknownst to us, ordered an appetizer. Sometimes, I’ve learned you just shouldn’t ask questions. Just eat it and enjoy it and move on. But, I can never do that. We were presented what looked like meat with cucumbers. So, I asked what it was. A pile of duck tongues. I was, then, told how to eat them (because there is a small bone to navigate around and delicately spit out).

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.17.55 PM

I ate a bunch of them, because I could tell she had ordered these very specifically and wanted us to have them. They really weren’t that bad. Except I kept thinking of the Aflac commercials and it kinda gave me the heebies. But, if you could get around the fact of what it was, the taste was pretty good.

As we were dining, Sammy imparted some knowledge about Chinese cuisine. She said: in America, you can afford to eat only the choice pieces of meat. But, in China, we have to utilize every part of the animal. To me, this makes it easier to appreciate eating these dishes. I’ve never given any thought to the fact that for my whole life, I’ve eaten only the “best” parts of the animal and discarded the rest. I’ve never appreciated the fact that I can choose what I eat. Until now, when I’ve sat and eaten a dozen duck tongues with a girl who has eaten things like this out of necessity for her whole life.

Sammy also treated us to afternoon tea. With the prettiest tea set I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Kinda makes you forget about all the tongues you just ate. Kinda.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.18.14 PM

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