Buying Chicken

Life in China: A Picture A Day, April 7, 2016 - I apologize to my vegetarian friends who may not like this picture, but, it is part of life in China! This is how I buy chicken at my supermarket. There are usually a few pre-packaged pieces, but nowhere near the variety of if you just buy it unpackaged. For whole chickens, they always come with the head and feet (unless you are in an area with a supermarket that caters to expats :-)) For a city raised girl, I’ve come a long way! When we first moved to China, I wouldn’t buy a chicken unless the head and feet got cut off, now I just throw the whole chicken in the pot! (But I still don’t eat the feet!) I’ll see how people handle this picture and then I’ll decide whether to post buying meat at the wet market, or others pictures I’ve hesitated posting!




White Water Buffalo

Life in China: A Picture A Day, April 6, 2016 - Today we visited the Dongguan Xiangshi Zoo. This is a much smaller zoo than the ones we’ve visited in the surrounding big cities, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. For the most part, we enjoyed it, though we skipped the shows. They had something we’ve never seen before, I thought they were albino Asian water buffalo, but Leah translated the information and they are a specific breed from Guizhou province. There were 4 or 5 adults and a calf. There doesn’t seem to be much information about them in English online, but, there are 135 breeds of water buffalo listed for around the world! and the Guizhou White was one of them! You can see a regular colored one in the background. We have seen the regular colored water buffaloes working on farms outside of the cities. Asian water buffalo are almost extinct in the wild, as most are now domesticated.


Life in China: A Picture A Day, April 5, 2016 - I have good news for all my friends in the southern USA…if there is a famine, you won’t starve! You know all that Kudzu that is everywhere you go? It is not only edible, but good for you! Every part of the plant, except the woody vine, is edible, although in Asia the root, called “gé gēn,” is the most popular. We have never seen it in the supermarkets, but the wet markets have it. We decided to give it a try, made some soup with it, and although I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, it wasn’t bad! It reminded me of jicama, very hard when fresh, somewhat difficult to peel and chop, and not a lot of it’s own flavor. We also purchased some “ge fen,” or kudzu root powder, for a drink. I decided to try it plain, again not my favorite, but, it suggested adding a little sweetener, and I can see that would make it very palatable. It seems there are plenty of US websites that suggest using the leaves for salad. And… the root and flowers are used in TCM, have been for 2000 years! You’re probably thinking everything is used in TCM! Not really, but I write about the interesting things :-) The main use over time has been for alcoholism, supposedly it helps with hangovers! Who wants some now??? And a lot more…look up either kudzu or pueraria if you are interested in the medicinal uses.

Tomb Sweeping Festival

Life in China: A Picture A Day, April 4, 2016 -Today was an official holiday in China, called Qing Ming Jie 清明, or Tomb Sweeping Day/Festival. It is a day/weekend celebrated by Eastern religions to pay respect to your ancestors, clean their graves, burn incense and make offerings. I’ve never actually seen a grave in Guangdong province, they are outside of the city. I have seen them when we were at the rice terraces (which is pictured) and also driving through the New Territories of Hong Kong. Since they are in the countryside, families usually pack a picnic to enjoy after tending to the graves. Nowadays, since so many people aren’t in their hometowns where their ancestors’ graves are, you can hire someone to tend to the graves for you. I thought it was interesting that those people who are specifically remembered are considered part of the extended family and called the “living dead,” whereas those who have been forgotten by their families are considered to be ghosts or the “dead dead.” The belief is that you can send things to these ancestors by burning a likeness of the object, so, as you can see by the pictures, you can buy paper money, houses, cars, games, jewelry and even iphones and ipads! My favorite is the package with Hades tea and beer! Leah took these pictures yesterday at the wet market in Dalingshan, the town next to us.

Ginger Tea

I have a whole assortment of “tea” that I enjoy in China! “Old” ginger tea is considered not just a drink, but a Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedy. “Old,” or mature, ginger, with the light brown skin, is the type you probably see most often in stores. Young ginger is much lighter colored on the outside and doesn’t need peeled. Ginger is recommended for nourishing the blood, improving circulation, improving digestion, reducing nausea (including motion sickness), reducing inflammation, and as a pain reliever.

You can make your own tea at home or, in China (and probably Asian stores elsewhere), buy packets ready mixed with other beneficial ingredients. In the packets, it is generally mixed with black tea and dark brown sugar. The box on the bottom of the picture also has Luohanguo (see Jan 9 pic of day).

Ginger, red dates and brown sugar tea is sold especially for women to drink during their monthly cycle and post partum. The ginger helps with cramping, and the ginger and red dates are both good for blood circulation, and red dates are high in calcium and iron. Goji berries are also often mixed in.

Old ginger increases body temperature, so is especially good if you are cold (winter, poor circulation, etc). Young ginger decreases body temperature, so is good when you are hot (summer, fevers, etc).

Those with high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, or in menopause, are advised to reduce or avoid use of ginger. It is a blood thinner so doesn’t mix with certain medications. It’s probably best to read up on precautions before using more than a few slices a day!

Collecting Snails

Life in China: A Picture A Day, April 2, 2016 -Today, Leah and I had lunch with a friend then took the bus to check out a DIY market near our library. We did find it, there were about 10 vendors, plus kids were painting masks and adults were doing some silk screening. There were numerous shipping containers converted into shops and restaurants, but best of all … there is a park that we didn’t know about, called Creative Park, with 3 small lakes. These people along the lake were all collecting snails to eat! There were LOTS of snails and people were just filling their bags or buckets. The one I’m holding was one of the biggest, people were collecting all sizes. We then figured out that there is a path that leads to an adjacent park, which made it easy for us to walk home :-)

Bottle Gourd

Life in China: A Picture A Day, April 1, 2016 -This squash never really looked much different from the regular zucchini squash I buy so I’ve tended to just ignore it. Leah finally decided we should try it. As with so many other vegetables, it has many names! In English, it can be called calabash gourd (with a rounded bottom) or bottle gourd (long and slender like the picture), in Chinese it is pu guo 蒲瓜 (pronounced poo gwa), and in other Asian countries it can be lauki, doodhi, or opo squash. They are all the same other than shape; It has smooth light green skin and white spongy flesh with seeds. I read both to take the seeds out or to leave them, so we left them in and they weren’t even noticeable. It has a very mild taste, but is supposedly packed with health benefits; It has a very high water content and is good for digestion, urinary health (acts as a diuretic), eases constipation, weight loss (especially when juiced), high blood pressure and heart health! Taste a small piece before using and if it is bitter you shouldn’t eat it. We peeled and cubed ours, then tried it two different ways. We made a soup with the bottle gourd, carrot, onion and sweet potato, boiled them in water, then pureed the mixture and added coconut milk and seasoning (It looked like pumpkin soup!)…. turned out delicious! The other half we just stir fried with some beef strips, garlic and onion. I liked it in the soup best, but the stir-fry was also good. They are harvested young for eating, if left to mature, then they are dried and the shell hardens making them just right for bottles and musical instruments. I’m curious if those of you outside of Asia can buy these?