7/23 – A Balancing Act

Day Thirty-One – Sunday, July 23

Today was the perfect blend of host family and friend time.  Since today was the only real day of my weekend, I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends, but also wanted to spend time with my Chinese family.  Thankfully, my plans for the day worked out to fit in a perfect amount of time for each!

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Cool gift place

This morning, my parents took me to a super cool area of Zhuhai that has a bunch of Chinese ceramics and wooden figures.  I went to buy a pretty serving platter for my mom – thankfully one of the shops had a very nice one!  We walked into a bunch of the stores and each had its own, unique wooden statues or jade pieces.  My host mom was incredibly nice and gifted me some jade earrings, and I also bought my family a set of wooden zodiac animals.  This is what I really wanted as gifts, as it truly screams “China!”

Back at home, my sister and I cooked up lunch!  My dad showed us both how to cook a couple dishes.  I first made shredded beef with peppers.  While I occasionally cook back at home, I don’t think I’ve ever handled this fresh, raw meat before.  My dad handed me a chunk of fresh beef and told me to wash it under the faucet.  I then spent a good 20 minutes cutting it into thin slices (like what you would sear) and then cutting the slices into tiny shreds.  The only knife my family uses is a huge, heavy cleaver – I was so scared I’d cut off my finger!

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I made these!!

After prepping the beef, I skinned and removed the scales from a fresh fish filet and sliced it into thin slices as well.  The last food I prepped was mapo tofu, which I thought was easy because we cook it pretty often back at home.  When it came time to cook the meats, my tiny kitchen here only has one stove heater, which the wok permanently resides on (I don’t think we have any other pots or pans).  For each dish, I first put in cooking oil, then garlic and ginger.  I was kinda scared when I was cooking because I only had a metal spatula to use and it got really hot because it was metal (duh).  Also because the oil was bubbling everywhere!  But in the end, the three dishes were delicious and it was a ton of fun cooking with my family.

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Hot pot = life

After a brief 休息 (rest break), I was off on the bus to Gongbei to meet up with friends and language partners.  We all met at a hot pot restaurant and squeezed all ten of us at one large(ish) table.  I was bummed because Meng Nan was sick and couldn’t make it.  Our hot pot came and was literally red – there were so many peppers and tons of chili oil in the broth!  I love spicy food and eat so much of it here that it didn’t even taste too hot to me!   Our language partners ordered us constant food to cook, and one of the first things that came was a house specialty… goose intestines!   I was excited to try them because the restaurant is known for it and honestly when else am I going to have the opportunity to try goose intestines?!?  The texture was a little rubbery, but overall they tasted fine!   We ate so much and ordered about a million plates – it was so much fun!  After hot pot, a bunch of us went to a hair and nail salon to get our nails done.  Outing got his hair cut, and Anthony, Lilly and I got our nails painted.  Well, Anthony got one pinky painted for free and Lilly and I actually got manicures.  It’s so much fun just getting to spend time with the language partners – they are all so nice and interesting!  Anthony and I (with pretty nails!) had to rush back home on the bus afterwards because we needed to make our curfew (I think we both just made it!).

Today was pretty much perfect!  I hope the rest of my time in Zhuhai is just like this!