NY with New Eyes

You didn’t think our summer vacation was done being told, did ya?!

Williamsburg Waterfront

It had been quite some time since I left New York, and I hadn’t been back to visit for the two years since I left for China. So this summer, after Maine, we made sure to make a stop in the city, to see if I still loved it as much as I did they day I left.

Guess what – I did.

A friend who was out of town was so generous and let us stay in her Prospect Heights apartment – a part of Brooklyn that I didn’t spend so much time in the first time around, so I’m glad we were able to explore that ‘hood on this short trip.

Of course as soon as I touched down at JKF, I missed the city. Walking around Brooklyn, I kept turning to my DiploMan and saying, “I love Brooklyn”. I’m just proud of him for not rolling his eyes in front of me. What a good man.

A lot of people don’t like the frantic pace of New York, the loud buses and crowded trains, the lack of smiles and the constant hustle and bustle. But I love it all, and I still do. And really, it’s not always like that.

NY from the East River

Don’t get me wrong, I loved spending two years in China, and I love living in DC right now. Here in DC, we’re eating well and exercising regularly again. We’ve picked out a few spots that we love and even more that we want to try. I’ve begun to establish little routines for my days and weekends, I’ve been writing more (though, still not enough), exploring the world of blogging, and reaching out to old friends who are in town (or soon moving here).

But for some reason, there’s no feeling like living in NY, broke and cramped. Somehow it’s desirable, even. You know what it is? The saving grace? Every day you’re able to get out of your tiny living quarters and bump elbows with other humans, with so much potential to eat/see/hear/do new things every day. It’s this potential and human contact that keeps people in New York. If you don’t believe me, watch this movie.

This is just me waxing poetic, by the way. I certainly did not feel like that every day I was living in New York, and in fact more often than not was fed up by sky-high rents and lack of space, and my feet always being dirty and my legs generally pale. But, the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side, even when there’s not really much grass on that side.

And I, by no means, have regrets leaving that city behind. In fact, I know I left at a good time because I’m always looking forward to going back.


Spring is in the air- a new hope for the market

For some reason, in the first couple months of being here I was a bit skeptical at the prospect of any change in the offerings of my local wet markets. As if China, because it didn’t observe Daylight Savings, also didn’t change its agricultural output!?

But as February turned into March, and small oblong mangoes that fit in the small of your palm replaced the tiny cartons of strawberries (yes, strawberries were abundant in January- how crazy does that seem!), my fear of a non-changing market has slowly evaporated. Just this past week, I’ve noticed more new produce springing up at my favorite vendors.  Stalks of asparagus the size of carrots, and vines of a leafy plant that might be bay leaves sold by the branch, all over the place (I plan to inquire about this bay-leaf-I’m hoping it’s basil-plant on my next trip).

Tomatoes and cucumbers have been at the markets since I’ve been here, and they’re still holding their place along the scallions, chives, daikon, corn, red onions (not a yellow onion for miles) and chinese celery.  I’ve gotten used to cooking with the vegetables that have been available so far, and am certainly looking forward to the new crops of goodies that are waiting to be revealed!

And now for your viewing pleasure, a fish-bludgeoning scene from the market, fit for a fish horror flick:

Back in China

The barrier to the consulate building- keeping us in, or others out…?
Although I’ve been posting about Thailand for the last two weeks, I have indeed been back in Guangzhou for the last week.  (Just in case any of you were wondering if I decided to stay on permanent vacation…)
The weather here has been unusually freezing, with a wet chill that cuts right through one’s “winter” clothes.  I didn’t think I would encounter bone chilling coldness, but newsflash, I am wrong.  As a result of this grey and dreary climate, I’ve cut back on my great explorations of the city and its markets.  But, as with winters before in New York, I plan on utilizing my kitchen more since the weather is unkind- especially when my stuff gets here.  Next week?  Fingers crossed.  So, expect to hear more of my peeps from my very own kitchen!!!
And I know I said it before, but really, Happy New Year to all!

Noodle Soup

In New York, as soon as there was the slightest chill in the air, someone in the group would surely suggest a trip to Ippudo for dinner.  So salty, so noodly, so hot, so satisfying.
Leaving New York just as winter was approaching, I was sad that I didn’t get one last Ippudo season in the city.  When I moved to Guangzhou, however, the world of noodle soup exploded in my face.  Noodles in Asia are like coffee and bagels in New York.  They’re everywhere, they’re cheap, they’re delicious, and people eat them at anytime of day. Since moving here, I’ve certainly acquired a new obsession for noodle soup.
Although Thailand felt as hot as the Sun itself, here again were noodle carts on every corner, and I found myself craving these every single day despite the heat.  There was something exciting about sweating while you ate your meal, and it being totally acceptable.  Everytime B asked what I wanted to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner, I would look at him from the corner of my eyes and ask, “noodles?”  This suggestion was usually countered by a more reasonable alternative, but I still managed to get a few bowls of noodles in during the course of my five days in Thailand.
These carts all offered the same thing, or if it wasn’t, there was very slight variation from vendor to vendor.  To me, it was always vermicelli glass noodles in a clear meat (pork?) broth with your choice of chicken, pork, or beef on top (no veg option, duh).  On the cart, or on little tables next to the cart were little bowls of condiments, including chili flakes, chili paste, a chili vinagrette, ground peanuts, and sugar(!).  Usually inside the soup, or else sitting on the table next to the condiments, were a basket of thai basil and bean sprouts.  Obviously I added everything that was available.