September 23rd, 2007

After a very shitty start to the day, it’s good to end it with confirmation of what caused this latest round of gut trouble. The hamburgers. More specifically, the beef.

Confirmation came in two forms: A very, very blocked drain in the kitchen sink; and lzh’s admission that the beef she bought yesterday didn’t look quite right. In her defence, she figured that buying from the supermarket should be safe, which, in the case of the large chains like our neighbourhood Jingkelong where she bought the beef, is generally true. It’s the small supermarkets and markets where you need to be on your guard.

So I guess one unfortunate side-effect of this inflation is that meat is staying on supermarket shelves longer than it should. Better be careful about dairy products and other things that go bad easily, too.

And how did the blocked drain provide confirmation? Well, guess what it was blocked with. And the only way to get it unblocked was to pull the s-bend apart. Oh, boy, was that fun. The s-bend sits too low to slide the only bucket we have here underneath, meaning I had to first pull the s-bend off and then lzh quickly slide the bucket under the pipe. Naturally, there’s no way you can do that quick enough without dirty, skanky, nasty water splashing all over the floor. And me. So, trying to minimise my contact with anything associated with that dodgy beef, I immediately dumped my clothes in the washing machine, jumped in the shower, and scrubbed myself down thoroughly. After all, my gut still hurts and I don’t think it would take too much to set it going again.

What really, really annoys me about this whole episode is that those hamburgers were really, really good to eat. Not so good the second time round, though. Especially when they’re spurting out both ends at almost the same time. That was most unpleasant. But they tasted so good the first time round.

So, everybody, remember: be very careful about meat and dairy and other things that go bad quickly, even when you’re buying from an otherwise trustworthy place. Throwing stuff out eats into people’s profits, so they may well be tempted to push the limits of how long stuff can sit on shelves.

Well, we whittled out wedding photos down from the 158 they took to the 40 we paid for. And considering we’ve already paid enough in various extra bits and pieces, we were determined not to pay for any extra photos. Trouble is, lzh reckons they did a much better job of photographing me than they did photographing her. I suggested that maybe the photographers were just plain more interested in men. Well, this is Beijing, a big, cosmopolitan city in which just about every lifestyle choice is represented, and mostly out in the open. Anyway, we got 40 good photos. That part is over and done with.

And in other news: Following some advice from a good man who is no longer in Beijing (unfortunately: there aren’t enough good, normal, sane, intelligent people around as it is) who knows his tea pretty well, I went looking for what I thought might be a tea I had once down in Changsha and loved. Unfortunately, the tea shop owner only told me it was a kind of wulong, and not what kind of wulong, meaning I haven’t managed to find that tea ever again. 人å?‚乌龙- ginseng wulong, he said. So I bought some on Friday. Didn’t get around to trying it until today. Well, it’s pretty close to what I had in Changsha. Perhaps if I brewed it properly in a proper teapot it might come even closer. I did manage to scavenge a little teaware from the remains of Kevin’s apartment before he left, but no pot, unfortunately. I have a good one up in the village, I’ll have to remember to bring it back with me after National Day. Anyway, even if it doesn’t quite measure up to that one, beautiful experience that day in Changsha, it’s still good tea. I need to expand away from my all longjing all the time diet. Longjing is great, but there are many other excellent teas out there.

That one, beautiful day in Changsha- it was towards the end of my time there, and with two colleagues- the two I would soon travel to Norway with- I went out shopping, looking around for gifts appropriate for half-Viking-half-Lapp (that’s the word they used themselves) Norwegians from “the most lawless county in Norway” (that’s how they described it themselves). Tea and teaware are obvious gift possibilities, so we looked in a tea shop and the owner invited us over to his teatable- one of those beautiful specially carved treeroots on which every tiny detail is designed to bring the process of brewing and drinking tea to its utmost perfection. He brewed us up some wulong of some kind, showed us how to handle the cups correctly and how to drink it properly. And the tea was simply amazing- a complex mix of flavours including licorice and honey, and it was such a good pick-me-up after the summertime inner-city Changsha, and it was so incredibly good. It was really, really hard to drag ourselves away from that teatable, and yet, we had to eventually.

And ever since that day I’ve been wondering just what kind of wulong that was.

Well, I’m not sure I’m ever going to manage a repeat of that beautiful day in Changsha. For starters, I don’t want to go spending too much on a tea I don’t know. Secondly, we can’t afford for me to drink the best teas, so I’m going to have to settle for the best in our price range. Thirdly, I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of super-duper top of the range teaware- and yes, it does make a difference. But hopefully bringing my teapot back from the village and using it to brew this ginseng wulong will at least allow me to drink great tea.

Sorry for the rather overblown language in that tea story, but it really was incredible tea.

2 Responses to “confirmation”

  1. Jeremiah Jenne Says:

    人�乌龙 is one of our favorites. We get it at a little tea shop on Nanlugouxiang where they really let you take your time in picking the tea.

    I too have been known to wax rhapsodic on tea. Must be a China thing.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Nah, it’s not a China thing. There’s just such a huge range of damn good quality tea in China that you can’t help but wax rhapsodic.