Friday, December 4, 2009

The Meat Market

So today Lori took me to the vegetable and meat market. Now, I've seen a lot of things with all the traveling we've done and countries we've been to. But I thought this was a notable experience to share with those that may not be as fortunate to experience the joys of a Chinese meat market.

First off, let me say that I am thankful for once that I am here in the freezing cold. I can not imagine what such a place would smell like in the heat - no check that. I can imagine - we passed through just a place in India in the middle of summer, worst smell I have ever experienced EVER. So I am thankful that I did not have that fragrance to accompany this trip.

In the middle of the square is a large open building where the vegetables are. I liked this part. Tables and tables of veggies - you could make really good salads or stir fry. It was really beautiful - the colors and smells of the produce. The venders are funny - Lori has been told to bargain for the prices, but they don't budge, so she doesn't think it's really a place to haggle the price. We bought some lettuce for our hamburgers tonight. We are having a teacher and her family over for dinner, and they make american food when the host local guests for meals. Last night we had fajitas - yummy!!!

Then comes the meat. All around the outside of the vegetable market are stalls of meat sellers. I think it is arranged by type of meat - but some venders sell multiples types. There are hunks of meat sitting on the tables - huge carcasses hanging from hooks on the ceiling. After asking several people for beef and being directed in several directions, we ended up at Lori's mutton man - he also had beef. There are feathered chickens in a pile to one side of the table. There is half a sheep or some animal laying on another part - some ribs, and then chunks of cut beef around the table. She asks the man for 3 jins (lbs) of meat - to show she wants it ground she makes a really funny grinding noise while making almost a movie motion with her hands to show grinding. He understands. He asks if we would like bones in our beef - not for tonight thanks! He places chunks of beef on the scale until it reaches about 3 jins.

Then the grinder. Who knows how long this butcher has had this grinder. It is well used, and probably has never been cleaned - ever. There are at least 3 types of meat he sells - today. So most likely, this grinder has ground 4-5 types of meat over the last years, with no cleaning in between. (Is your stomach turning yet?) So, he grinds the meat into a bag - double bags it and gives it to us to take home. Time to pay - Lori hands him the money, and he gives her change. He gives her change without washing his hands - I don't think they wash their hands at all throughout the day! So - we have contaminated meat and contaminated money. Just saying - don't ever let your kids play with money in other countries!

So, now we have our ground meat to make hamburgers for dinner. I think it goes without saying that all burgers are well done in this China House!

On the way around we pass a row with a crate of live chickens. These are the fluffiest chickens I have ever seen! They are actually kinda pretty - all white with these little blue spots on their faces by the beak. I peeked inside the shop they were outside of, and there were feathers everywhere! This is where they kill and pluck them... I have had to kill and pluck a chicken before, so it wasn't too startling, but still, a real look at another culture of butchery! Next comes fish - they have tanks of crowded fish (live) and then they have trays of dead ones - some skinned, some not. I'm not big on fish, but considering we are in the middle of China - no where near the coast - I would definitely go for the live fish!

In addition to meat and veggies - you can buy various canned goods and spices in this market as well as pots and pans (for under one dollar!) It was a great afternoon and really interesting to see the way the chinese in this city acquire their food!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving! Our Chinese Thanksgiving at Beijing Duck! Yum :)

Carving the bird....

Liam and I outside Beijing Duck - with the duck.

The market - notice the GIANT Zucchini??? That would make a LOT of zucchini bread!

The meat market - yummy eh?

Eli and Alleyah making tortillas! Funny the first time we make tortillas we are in China!

Liam at the baseball game with one of the university players. Will gets to help coach a team for the 2 weeks we are here. Their last game is this weekend since it is getting TOO COLD!

Cute kids - I really love the girl's tuke!

Busted! Liam is always hungry and trying to get into snacks!!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Small Things

So -here are some small things about china that I have noticed that may easily get passed by in a newsletter/update/emails/slide shows. It's nothing too exciting - but small things I would like to remember.

-When we first arrived I noticed a LOT of people (well, mostly women) wearing face masks. I thought - wow - everyone is really really cautious about getting sick. Then I noticed they were stylish face masks - all sorts of colors and patterns. And I learned, they were face masks for the cold, but it probably doubles for germs as well.

- Most stores and restaurants have thick blankets hanging in the doorway to keep the cold out when the doors are kept open. It feels like you are going into a tent or fort everywhere you go.

- There is no cold water here - they serve it hot everywhere.

- Most kitchens have big sliding glass doors/walls separating them from the rest of the house.

- For some reason, my friends here have to go to the Post Office to refill their gas card. (Gas for their house - everything is prepaid here.) Not sure where the connection is between gas and mail.

- Chop stix and rice. Enough said.

- They do construction 24 hours a day - the off shifts sleep in make shift tents on the sidewalks.

- Eli's favorite thing about China right now is the kitties. Our friends have 2 kittens and when Eli woke from his nap today, he came out and said, "there are so many kitties in my bed with me!"

- The have these rooms - we would call them sun rooms - in every apartment. This is where they hang their laundry to dry. It is very cold in these rooms right now, but apparently they warm up a lot when it's nice out. The kids like to play in them - they again are separated from the rest of the house by a sliding glass door.

- There are a ton of taxi's here - but it can take up to 20 minutes to get one!

- They really do have 100 year old eggs in the stores here. Not sure if it's considered a delicacy when they are everywhere.

- There is only one type of cereal to buy here and it is in the chip aisle.

- The milk is so pasteurized it is not refrigerated in the stores.

- We can only buy real coffee at a local coffee shop where they bring it in from the Tibetian villages. Otherwise - it's all nescafe.

- Oh- my friend here says that everything you buy (clothes) here, the buttons will fall off... so I will be sure to redo the buttons on such purchases when I get home!

- Um - that's it for now. I'm sure I'll think of more little things later.....