Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gan Guo

One of the hidden gems of Chinese cuisine is gan guo. Gan guo (literally, "dry pot") is a small metal pot or shallow bowl that is placed over a flame right at your table. Inside the pot can be any number of things. For us, it is usually potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, lotus, and other kinds of vegetables.

In addition to the hot temperatures, gan guo is also filled with lots of red hot peppers and other serious spices. And, just when you think you are all done with your hot and spicy feast, there are usually raw white onions placed underneath all of that gan guo goodness. As you are working on the main course, the onions are being cooked in all of the oil and juices that seep to the bottom. They make a nice treat late in the meal, which is best enjoyed slowly and with a big bottle ofYanjing Pijiu (the cheap, local beer).

What a shame that gan guo has not yet made its way from the alleyways of Beijing to the Chinese restaurants of America. This stuff is the real deal!

~Steve

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seatbelts Anyone?

Speaking of wenming, it's been a while since any of us has worn a seat belt. And we are apparently not alone...

~Steve

Beijing Word Of The Year

Everywhere you look these days, it's all about the "civilization." Wenming (文明), the Chinese word for "civilized," can be found on permanent street signs, temporary banners hanging from tian qiao...pretty much anywhere.

Let's build a civilized city!

Let's enter the subway in a civilized manner!

Let's be civilized to one another on the road!

Actually, I say let's not go too far with all of the niceties. We've got enough wenming in the West to keep the world's civilization quotient up to standard. Just go for it, people of Beijing! We can take it!

~Steve

Monday, July 18, 2011

Human Pin Cushion

The doctor at the village clinic told me to go outside and wash my foot off in a grimy-looking sink. After doing this, we went inside where the doctor put some anti-bacterial stuff on it. Then the doctor said I would need a tetanus and rabies shot. He also said that I should get the immunoglobin injection as well.

After talking with a doctor in Beijing on the phone, it was decided that I would get the tetanus shot in the village and then go back to Beijing for the rabies and immunoglobin shots. This was because there are multiple shots over a period of time and all of the shots need to come out of the same batch.

After getting tested to see if I would have a reaction to the tetanus shot, the doctor gave it to me and we went back to our friend's house to get our things. A driver then took us to the nearest town, where we could hire a driver to take us back to Beijing.

After the several hour drive, we arrived in Beijing, where we split up. Julie and Dad took our stuff home, while Mom and I went to the hospital. We spent three hours at the hospital, where I received multiple shots in the emergency room. I received the first two rabies injections in my left arm. That totaled out to three shots in my left arm, which meant that it would be sore for a while.

Then we spent the next half hour watching the nurse fill syringes with six, big bottles of immunoglobin. She told us that the liquid is really thick and she has to get all the liquid out of the bottles. She ended up getting it into two syringes. One syringe had eight milliliters, while the other had four milliliters. The eight milliliters had to be injected into my foot and the four milliliters could be injected anywhere else.

The doctor came in to inject the eight milliliters into my foot. He kept saying that it sounded cruel, and i couldn't figure out why. And then he injected it...

He put the needle in sideways under the bite wound. It took several minutes to inject it. Those were the most painful minutes of my life.

When the doctor finished, my leg was vibrating, my face was red, and I had made fingernail marks in my mom's arm.

I still had to have the four milliliter injection as well. Now I saw why the doctor called it cruel. My foot now had a huge bubble of immunoglobin inside it. The bubble took ten minutes to finally seep into my muscle.

Then the nurse came in to inject the last four milliliters. There was controversy over where to inject it. It was decided to inject it into my thigh. This injection surprisingly did not hurt, even though it took several minutes to inject. I then had to stay in the hospital for another half hour under observation.

As I said before, the rabies shot is a series. I had received the first two injections, but I still required three more. I had my next shot this past Saturday, and then there is one this coming Wednesday. As they say in Chinese, zhen mafan!

We will never know for sure if this dog has rabies, and we are 99.9 percent sure that it does not (the dog has apparently bit ten other people, and all of them are fine). But better safe than dead!

~Z

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dog Bite

This past Wednesday, I was attacked and bitten by a dog. This is the story of how it happened.

This past week, we were visiting some of our friends. They are farmers in the countryside of China. We planned on staying with them for five days. The houses in the village are enclosed courtyards with several small, brick buildings. We stayed in one of the courtyard buildings.

On our first day there, we spent most of the time biking around and settling in. We woke up early the next morning and had a quick breakfast. We freshened up and hopped into their tractor to go to a nearby village to buy some things at the market. We bought drinks and snacks, toys and shoes, and several garbage cans.

After we went into the first few shops, I decided to sit outside with Mom, Julie, and one of our friends. Dad was looking at clothes, so I then decided to join him. After taking a quick look through the product, we headed back to the tractor.

There was a two foot wall separating us from the tractor, so rather than go around it, I jumped over it. Turns out, I landed in a make-shift dog pen.

I didn't realize this at first. Then I noticed some dog poo and a metal chain leading into a bush.

I then saw the dog, lying in the shadows.

I took another step toward the tractor. The dog growled. When I lifted my foot again, it jumped up and ran at me.

I turned and ran, but did not make it.

It got a hold of my shoe, so I kicked backwards and jumped over the makeshift fence. I then half jumped, half limped, and pulled myself up into the tractor.

Mom was shouting, "Are you bit?" over and over again. I kept saying, "No, I only got my shoe."

Then I looked under the tongue of my right shoe. The tongue was ripped and my sock was cut open. There was along, thick red line running across the top of my foot. Now I knew what the painful pressure on my foot was. I pulled off my shoe and sock, and Mom took out her Purell. She dumped it on the wound and checked the rest of my foot.

I was then helped to the local clinic, which was just around the corner.

To be continued...

~Z