Tag Archives: food

Iceland on a Budget

Iceland was nearly a bust. Katie and I had a miserable first day, losing our shirts to the ridiculously pricey public transportation and spending the afternoon shivering and soaking wet from pouring rain. But then the sky cleared and we had an amazing two-day hike, from Skógar to Þórsmörk, between the fantastically-named Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. The scenery was beautiful, the company friendly, the weather perfect. On our last day in the country, we returned to the airport, elated to have visited.

Read More »

The Muslim Quarter of Xi'An, Part II

On my first trip to Xi'An (西安), I became enthralled by the Muslim Quarter. The blaring music, blinking lights and steaming food were all intoxicating. On my second trip, there was no way I would miss it.

Read More »

A Stroll Through Yinchuan

After seeing the Genghis Khan Mausoleum, I left Inner Mongolia for Ninxia Hui, a small autonomous region in north-central China. My first stop was Yinchuan, Ninxia Hui's small capital, with a population of 800,000. Being a Chinese city, everything there seemed interesting to me, from a lake on the city's northwest side, to a smallish mosque, to a pedestrian shopping street. Here are a few photos from my stroll through Yinchuan:

Read More »

A Chinese Tour of Jiuzhaigou National Park

...I found a group of women from my tour and they invited me to have lunch with them, near the edge of one of the lakes. They were extremely nice and insisted that I take their food. I ate pig spine and chicken gizzard. They refused to try my peanut butter. I looked around and noticed that they were all enjoying themselves immensely. Maybe, just maybe, I was beginning to understand something about Chinese culture: This was exactly the nature experience most Chinese wanted. They valued shared experiences, something they could talk about later with each other. And they wanted to observe nature from afar, like they were watching it on a really high definition TV. Whereas I (and most Westerners, I imagine), wanted to be a part of nature, to walk through it alone, to listen to the chirping of birds and the blowing of wind, to feel snow crunching under my boots, to smell the flowers, to camp outdoors, to really take it all in, not just look at it. Maybe that was why I was frustrated and everyone else seemed happy.

Read More »

No Guts, No Story

The soup came next. It contained several cloves of garlic and a few green beans, but it was mostly filled with shriveled lumps of...something.

“Are those mushrooms?” Katie asked.

“I don't think so.” The soup had a distinct odor that I couldn't quite place. I grabbed a “mushroom” with my chopsticks and put it into my mouth. It didn't have much flavor, but its chewy texture made me want to spit it out. I tried, unsuccessfully, to tear the “mushroom” with my teeth. I took a swig of beer and swallowed it whole.

“Well? What is it?”

Read More »