Sushi place somewhere in a mall

July 1, 2009 § 1 Comment

I went to the downtown region today to eat lunch at a “sushi place somewhere in a mall.”  I put that phrase in quotes because before coming to Shanghai, a friend of mine sent me a list of all the things I should eat.  One of the must-try restaurants was, a “sushi place somewhere in a mall.”  I remember rolling my eyes when I read that because .. well… you know..

Anyway, luckily his sister knew exactly the restaurant he was talking about so we were able to successfully reach it for lunch.  We had another friend with us visiting from America so the three of us ate a delicious sushi lunch.  I ordered a bowl of rice with pickled vegetables, tamago, and uni (sea urchin).  I was starving by then so I scarfed down my food for a good ten minutes without talking.  Later when I explained that I was really hungry, both of the girls simply said, “I could tell.”  I thought it was yummy but I have to admit, my judgment was compromised by the sheer extremity of my hunger.

After lunch we went to a little cafe and got a tiramisu ice cream dessert.  I realized that I need to stop converting yuan to dollars when making purchases.  I need to start viewing one yuan as one dollar and buying things based on that scale rather than dividing each price tag by 7 (I believe the current exchange rate is ~7 yuan to 1 dollar).  I say this because we were able to buy an umbrella for 10 yuan when it started raining yet we paid 50 yuan for two cups of tea in a cafe.  That is five umbrellas!  My system may seem primitive and arcane but if I’m going to be in China, I should start spending money more carefully and not like an expatriate.

We wanted to visit the Shanghai National Museum today but the cabs would not stop for us!!  I felt like we had a bright red sign on our foreheads saying, “DO NOT STOP FOR US.”  Ugh.  I guess that’s karma for my stowaway trip on the VIP bus two days ago.  After an unsuccessful thirty minutes in the rain, we decided to just browse the shopping malls in the area.  I’m hoping that I can visit the museum within the next couple days.  On a side note, I think downtown Shanghai looks like any Chinatown in America.  It feels like it too.  I do realize though that the China I am getting to know is not through the eyes of the local people but through the eyes of American citizens living in Shanghai because of their business. I was however, able to speak with Ayi (auntie) about herself while she was making dinner.

Ayi is the equivalent of a maid/housekeeper in English but I am loathe to call her a maid because I feel like she is so much more than that.  She cooks and cleans but also eats her meals with us and is basically a part of the family.  She has been with the family for over ten years and has seen the kids grow up.  I was able to practice my broken Chinese with her and even though my accent is horrible, she was still able to understand me.  She is from Sichuan but lives in Shanghai to work and make money, like many other local women.  She has two daughters; one of her daughters in currently working while the other one is still attending school.  Even though she has lived in China her entire life, she has never visited Beijing.  When I asked her if she ever visited America she just laughed.

I really like Ayi.  She let me watch her prepare dinner because I said I wanted to learn how to make yummy Chinese food.  I wanted to help her but she told me just to watch because that way I will learn more effectively.   The most interesting thing I learned today was the subtle nuances in timing and measurements when using water, oil, and ginger together.   When I inquired about where she learned to cook, she smiled shyly and took out a weathered cookbook with dogeared pages entitled, “Chinese Cuisine.”   This revelation inspired me to actually open my cookbooks in America and start making some praise worthy food.

After dinner I had lychee!!!  They were larger, sweeter, and much more delicious than any I have ever tasted in the States.  Yesterday I ate this red fuzzy fruit that was sweet and tart at the same time but I have no idea what it is called.  Apparently the season for that particular fruit used to only be two weeks but due to advances in technology, people can now enjoy it for months.

After eating the lychee I talked to Jungwoo oppa!!  I had been trying to reach him for days because I wasn’t able to talk to him the day I left Korea but it turned out that his cell phone had been automatically blocking my calls from Skype because it was a weird number.  It was so good to hear his voice even though the first thing he said was that my Korean got worse. lol.    It has technically only been two days since I’ve left Korea but it already seems like ages ago.  I want to call all my relatives and friends every day and see how they are doing but I am aware that would be a bit excessive.  If any of you are reading this.. I miss you!! Tomorrow I hope to make new friends and have many more eye-opening experiences.  I’m also planning to look up all the vocab (in Mandarin) that I forgot and ask/tell Ayi everything I wanted to say today but couldn’t.  =)


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