The Joy of Cooking (and Eating and Reading)

Yesterday we said good-bye to Joy.  She took the ferry from Zhuhai to Hong Kong and from there flew home to Saudi Arabia.  We had a lovely visit and wish she could have stayed longer!  The food was absolutely delicious.  One afternoon, we took a walk through the wet market and she told us the names of many vegetables that we did not recognize.  And then she bought several and taught us how to cook with them.

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On the left: stir fry made with pork, dried tofu, peppers and Chinese flowering leeks. On the right, a dish made by sauteeing towel gourd. At the bottom, a soup with meatballs (pork and beef) as well as fried tofu.
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Upper left: sauteed lotus root. Upper right: that tasty pork and dried tofu dish again! Lower left: a dish made with wax gourd. Lower right: fried rice made with yesterday’s leftover vegetables.

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She was our houseguest, but somehow Joy ended up doing most of the cooking!

Of course, that’s not ALL the food we ate.  We went out to restaurants, too!  We took Joy to the Szechuan place in Tangjia, which might just be my favorite local restaurant.

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Dry-fried cauliflower. Possibly my favorite dish (it’s hard to choose) at possibly my favorite restaurant (it’s hard to choose).
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Simon’s eyeing the pork meatballs.
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Szechuan restaurant.

Joy also helped us do some taste-testing at the local tea shop in Tangjia.  It’s just like wine tasting in the U.S.  You tell the staff what flavors and varieties you are interested in, then they brew the tea and serve samples to you.  Being novices, Joel and I found it challenging to pick up all the tasting nuances that Joy and the staff could distinguish, but it was still fun.  Joy bought two batches of tea–green and red–to take back to Saudi Arabia.  She left samples of both with us, so we get to experiment a little more.

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Grabby little hands in a shop full of delicate teacups. What could go wrong?
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Joel at the tea tasting table. It has a special drain so that you can pour out the leftover tea.

With all that cooking/eating/drinking, it’s hard to believe we did anything else.  But we did!  We Skyped with Joel’s brother (and Joy’s husband) Jay.  I haven’t talked to him “live” in a couple of years, so that was great!

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Skyping with his gēge (older brother) . Oh, this modern world!
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While the grown-ups cooked, Simon invented a new game. He likes to dump out the contents of his toy bin and crawl inside. Mr. Chips comes along for the ride, of course.

On another afternoon, Joy and I went to the underground shopping mall at Gongbei.  It’s a huge, labyrinthine place and you can find just about anything.  Joy picked up a new suitcase, some shoes, a portable speaker for Joel and some new clothes for Simon.  After we emerged from the underground, I showed her the enormous Phoenix Bookstore next to the Vanguard grocery store.  Jay and Joel are both bookstore lovers, so they would be so jealous if they knew about the place.  (Of course, there’s not much in English, but who lets illiteracy get in the way of appreciating a giant bookstore?)

The enormous Phoenix Bookstore.
The enormous Phoenix Bookstore.

While we were there, Joy picked up a couple of Chinese language books.  One is in pinyin and designed for little kids to learn the sounds.  The other is a Chinese dictionary.  Have you ever wondered how a dictionary is arranged without an alphabet…?

Teaching Chinese to Joel.
Teaching Chinese to Joel.

Answer: by the number of brushstrokes in each character.  So in order to look up a word in the dictionary, you have to learn how to draw it.  And that’s not as easy as it sounds!

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Chinese lessons for everyone!
Tickles and gigles.
Tickles and giggles.
Saying goodbye until next time.
Saying goodbye until next time.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip.  I cherished the chance to get to know my sister-in-law a little better and now we’re already looking forward to seeing each other again.  Next time, America!


2 thoughts on “The Joy of Cooking (and Eating and Reading)”

  1. That cauliflower dishes looks a-ma-zing! You sooo have to learn to make that. And then never make it for me so that we can get into a huge fight and stop talking forever.

    1. Yeah, it is great. My other favorite dish is the green beans but they are made with a really healthy dose of pork fat. And I know you’re vegetarian and all, but surely you’re aware of the magical powers of bacon for those who partake in it. I think we have a lead on someone local who will give us some informal cooking lessons. I really want to learn a couple of these and the vegetable dishes are both delicious and made of ingredients available in the U.S.

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