12 July 2005

What I Ate Where

My first meal at the school in China was fried fish head and chicken feet soup. The second, third, fourth, and thereafter meal at school in china was peanut butter and jelly. The grocery store had yummy pineapple and mango jellies. My students asked me why I was taking a picture of my lunch tray. I looked around and saw little Chinese children sucking on chicken toes. My kids would bring in junk food and candy in class and eat during the breaks. “Why don’t they eat the school lunch?” I said to my teaching assistant. She looked at me and said “Why don’t you eat the school lunch?”

I had a dinner party at my little student apartment in Avignon. Pasta and pesto and a million bottles of wine. Cheese. Bread. Laura brought pastries from the nice boulangerie with the gold foil. It was BYOP- bring your own plate. Wine was cheap but dishes are expensive. At the time I was the only one who had a television, having schemed it out of the program in order to ‘improve my french’. It made me very popular. After dinner we ate nutella with our fingers and watched Matt LeBlanc in a badly dubbed soft core porn on Canal Plus.

In Amsterdam we ate brownies. Then candy. Then more candy. Then we slept. Jason assured me that the ground was still below me.

In the
Bahamas we went out with a local to see ‘the real island’. We stopped at his friend’s stand on the side of the road and he bought us both conch salad. The woman grabbed the conch shell, took the conch out of the inside and chopped it up with some parsley, hot sauce, and bell peppers. She served it to us in little Styrofoam dishes. I thought the conch would be soft and mushy because it was raw, but it was tough and rubbery. The local told me “this stuff will keep you going all night, if you know what I mean.” Then he grabbed my ass. We went to a local bar and I ordered a rum and coke. The bartender handed me a can of coke and a bottle of rum.

I went to a café outside the school in China two nights in a row. The first night I ordered Chinese fried rice. It was very tasty. Fried rice with carrots and chicken and egg. The second night I went back. This time I ordered “American fried rice”. It was fried rice with ketchup and ham.

In London I subsisted on pizza hut, Pringles and vodka. Pringles are good train food because they can’t be crushed in your bag. Valerie put some pot in a Pringles container on the way from Amsterdam. I wouldn’t get near her on the trains crossing borders. Somehow she accidentally threw it away before we got to London. The vodka was a splurge.

In Paris I went to dinner with a man who made fun of the way I ordered my crème brûlée.

We stayed in Florence with the son of a woman that my friend’s mother worked with. He had a job taking American tourists on bike tours through Italy. He took us to a real pizzeria. They served three pizzas only: no cheese, just cheese, or cheese and anchovy. We drank two bottles of house white wine. Afterward we went to a small bar with bad music and ordered gin and tonic, which I promptly smashed on the floor while Kristen and our host discussed Outkast.

In the train station of Barcelona Shila and I bought candy bars called Cratch Bars from the vending machines. Three hours to wait for the next train meant lots of jokes about eating cratch.

In Brussels they really do sell Belgian waffles from carts on the street. Apparently there is a large Turkish population in Brussels. We went to a Turkish bar one night. Kristen had a Hoegaarden. I had fries and a whisky sour. The owner asked us if we were going to stick around for “strip tease soiree.” Then he started closing all the blinds. We didn’t stick around. It rained all the way back to the hostel.

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