Sooo, it is Golden week(WAS….. I was supposed to post this last Sunday) here in China, everyone gets the whole week off the travel( or catch up on work, which is most what I am doing). I am currently in Inner Mongolia, Wuchuan, right on the edge of the Hohhot. I was worried the plane was going to crash on the way here. We had really choppy winds and a LOT of rain. The weather here reminds me of winter of San Francisco( which isn’t cold by winter standards, but can be cold enough to require a jacket ). Given that winter doesn’t really exist in California and I was in Brazil for the coldest part of it I have not experienced weather this familiar since… I forgot. In any case Inner Mongolia is completely different from Shanghai. The pace is much slower, they eat a lot of meat and potatoes (especially lamb… yum! Just about everyone here speaks mandarin ( although they have their dialect as well) and it feels like 3 people in this whole city speak English.
The food/culture here is an interesting mix between Mongolian( by extension, Russian) and Chinese.
First there is a LOT of potatoes in just about everything, which has similarity to Russian and Mongolian food, ( makes sense due to the weather). They add potatoes to everything, all of their soups and stews have some potatoes in it. They even use potato flour to make noodles. It is a a lot like 米粉 or 河粉/ rice noodles, but with potato flour. I also had some little 包子baozi that were made with potato flour as well, they took a very translucent color compared to standard wheat buns, and were a lot gummier ( but still delicious). Just imagine eating gnocchi, but stuffed with meat and veggies.
They really like their meat here ( especially lamb). See, I thought Americans had the hegemony of high protein, fat and starch diets, but I think inner mongolia is a good contender for this. Everyone of my meals has large amounts of lamb in it ( Which, I actually have no problem wit,I am a very happy camper). I had best lamb dumplings ever( apparently you eat them with raw garlic, new experiences right?), noodles stewed with intestines and innards, monoglian hotpot dominated by lamb, and piles of lamb ribs. This was heartwarming for my soul because I have had an unsuccessful search for lamb dumplings during my whole stay here in Shanghai, but my now…. my life is complete.
Some the food here takes me back to when I was in Kenya. I went to a rural area and had some starchy cakelike contraption that reminded me of Ugali. They onion pancakes they make here use basically the same method as chapatti( minus the green onions). The only difference was that they eat A LOT more meat here ( whereas in Kenya they don’t really)
People here also drink 白酒 Baijiu (Disinfectant/Chinese Liquor/Car Fuel ) like water. Reminds me of that one stereotype about Russians and vodka.
Oh by the way the whole reason I came to Inner Mongolia in the first place was to teach english. Right now I am tutoring 2 -3 kids at once. They put me to shame with their Chinese. I had no idea how much Chinese I had to speak to teach an english class.
Apparently everyone here also assumes I am from way down south of China. I guess I just have one of those faces. My hosts have more incredibly accommodating and hospitable with piles of food, a bed and also paying for my plane ticket here.
Also I got to drive a hummer limo in a rural area. One would think these two things don’t go together, but they do.
I just realized that 80% of this post has been about food, I reckon that I have just been really hungry the past hour I spent writing this. I am probably going to eat more lamb today. So excited!!