Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Eat Lamb, I Wear Lamb...I Am Lamb!

Lamb is one of the defining themes in my life these days.

(Warning!: Here comes a post where I talk about three things that are not at all related, except in the deep recesses of my sometimes hard to fathom mind...)

For one thing, we are on this big time hot pot kick. Desi insists that we go for huo guo twice a week. I think Julie will agree with me when I say that it is more like every other day...not that we're complaining! Hot pot is one of China's true culinary delights. I know I have enjoyed the opportunity to boil up some spicy pieces of lamb meat (that would be the red half of the pot). I've also been known to "accidentally" drop some in for Desi (that would be the milder white side). I haven't had this much lamb since Grampy's Sunday afternoon lamb roasts way back when...

And often when I'm feasting on yang rou, I'm also wearing yang rong. Translation...I'm not only eating lamb meat, I'm wearing lamb's wool as well. (We'll have to save the zhende haishi jiade discussion for another time...That is, is it real lamb's wool?) I came to China not expecting to purchase a single item of clothing. I have the clothes I need, I'm not looking to expand my wardrobe...You get the idea. But there I was, in a local marketplace, haggling with a merchant over the price of these lamb's wool long underwear. I think I was half into it for the sport of jiang jia ("talking price"), and half into it because I was curious about the whole long underwear thing. Well, before I knew it, I was the proud owner of the warmest piece of clothing I have ever had. I wore my yang rong all around Chengde and felt toasty the entire time, even out on the frozen lake (well, maybe toasty is a bit of an exaggeration). And now that we are heading to Harbin this week, Desi and the kids have followed suit and added lamb's wool to their expanding China collections...

In the meantime, with Lunar New Year around the corner, I recently rediscovered my Chinese zodiac sign. (I say rediscovered because, of course, I was aware of this back home from many meals spent studying paper place mats in Chinese restaurants. By the way, those things don't exist here..) So, what is my sign? Yep, you guessed it...I'm a lamb.

Does that make me a cannibal?

~Steve

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