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Feet And Yoghurt

‘Ni Hao’, I muttered in a slurred, jet lagged mumble. ‘Er, Wo Chi Su’

Glazed, Asian eyes stared back at me. I’m not sure who was more afraid. Me, the waitress, or the vegetarian sat across from me. After a few more futile attempts at conversing she yelled towards the back of the restaurant in a manner that suggested the spider had caught a fly.

‘Vegetarian’ I proclaimed while pointing to my girlfriend. ‘Ah yes, this one OK’, said the new waiter, directing us to the vegetarian needle in the carnivourous haystack of a menu. ‘Fine, and I’ll have the Chicken Stir Fry, Xie Xie’.

‘See we’ll breeze through this’, I reassured Hazell. ‘Just point and shoot’.

As we enjoyed the sights and smells of this popular, roadside restaurant, Hazell’s food arrived. Score.  No meat. A few moments later a black hot plate arrives with flammable gel heaters underneath. ‘This looks great’, said my stomach. The base layer of onions were sizzling and crackling away, and the pungent waft of chillies tickled my nose. Chopsticks poised, I was ready to dive in.

The first thing I managed to entrap in those notoriously tricky eating utensils, was rather solid. I lifted it through the bubbling onion and chilly mix and towards my mouth. Jet lagged or not, looking down cross eyed at the tip of my nose, there were definitely three spiked chicken feet. My stomach cartwheeled as I weighed up my options. As I’ve made clear, my Mandarin isn’t yet fluent, therefore articulating the phrase, ‘Waiter, there appears to be something from the Pre-Jurassic period trying to escape from my lunch’, seemed rather unlikely.

I chose option B. I tucked in. I skillfully navigated my way round most of the bones and nibbled at chewy flesh. The spicy mix of chillies and beans was reassuringly good. I looked across at Hazell, who has never been more attracted to me than she was at that moment. I had set the precedent for our culinary adventure in China.

The following day we ventured out for a walk down Nanluogu Xiang, the popular street our hostel was on. I chanced upon a small outlet which seemed popular with the locals. They were all gleefully tucking in to small pots of a creamy looking substance. If curiosity kills the cat, in China it kills the colon. Anyhow, I trundled over and the friendly man behind the counter yelled ‘Yuk!’ I paused for a moment and remembered I was in a land famed for it’s cultivation of mental balance, and all things both Ying and Yang. Was this a perverse form of Eastern salesmanship, designed to confuse the Western mind through reverse psychology? I’m game. ‘And what’s so yuk about it young man?’ I asked politely. ‘Yuk!’ he answered. This exchange went back and forth for several minutes before Hazell politely stepped in. ‘YAK!’ she exclaimed. It’s yoghurt made from Yak’s milk. ‘Yuk!’ The vendor exclaimed.

A smile and 80 Yuan later, I’m tucking into my new favourite thing, Yak Milk Yogurt, which comes in sweet, sour, or original guises. The substance is slightly lumpy and richer than your average yoghurt, a characteristic which made Hazell wretch, but enticed me into buying one a day for the duration of my stay in Beijing.

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  1. Gilly & Patsy
    June 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    What a treat! thanks for the news, fun and chicken feet…..look forward to next instalment and hope the turquoise mac is holding out…..no need for it in the Isle of Man as we are having a TT heatwave…lots of love Gilly and Mum/Patsy xxxxxx

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