I am trying my darnedest to become a more culturally aware person, and by proxy so are you. In my few months in China I have learned an array of things that are stunningly unimportant and yet equally (at least to me) fascinating.
1. Stinky Tofu.
This is just exactly what it sounds like. It is tofu that is stinky, though I would say that stinky is a misleading understatement. Most Stinky Tofu is sold on the street, and I will be walking alone, minding my own American self when suddenly I am hit in the face, for this odor is that aggressive, with the smell of rancid poo-poo. Yup, stinky tofu smells like someone relieved themselves on the sidewalk and then decided to let is fester right there in the sun. And I know there are smells that one can get used to, but this is just not something I have been able to get over. Every time I smell it I cringe and gag and try so hard to hold my breathe the half a block that it takes for the smell to finally dissipate.
The best part, however, is that a street vendor of this beloved food, finds it home by the bus stop that is just outside my home. That’s right, every night I walk through the stench, and every night I forget to hold my breath before I get off the bus. You would think that I would learn at some point that if I take a deep breath after getting off the bus, I will get a lungful of misery. I try to be nice about it because people LOVE stinky tofu, and I am told that it is some of the best tasting tofu out there, but ladies and gents, it stinks.
So imagine that you are walking along the street maybe to catch a bus or find a restaurant for dinner and there is a gentleman smoking away while on his cell phone. A typical scene one might find in good old US of A, right? Except that this gentleman is comfortably squatting with his knees together and his elbows resting on them as he finishes his cigarette. Then his friend arrives and he pops right up.
Squatting, I have learned, is a rather comfortable resting position. Go ahead, try it. I will wait. So it takes a little practice, but once you get up up from falling over because you have no balance in that position because you are American, you see what I am talking about.
3. Bags of Chickens
I will just say it like this. Once a week the restaurant downstairs in my apartment building gets a delivery of chickens. They are live and usually in a bag. I will let you fill in the blanks with that one.
Have a good one,