Jun 27, 2010

Wierd Eats and Special Treats

My lunch today had too many eyes. Okay...it did taste good, but it really did have lots of eyes. But let me not jump ahead of myself, I just had to get your attention first.

Woody has been planning for a couple of weeks now to take us with him on a day trip to a town called Yixing in the Jiangsu province. We jumped in the car at 8:00 am, picked up Michael, and began our fun-filled day. It was a 3 hour drive, and the best part of the trip was when Woody was making fun of Japanese people for confusing their L's and R's and saying "Leally?" We laughed till our tummies ached, and Taylor and I loving the fact that Woody also makes the same mistake sometimes (but we didn't tell him that).

Once we arrived I remembered what happens when I go to small Chinese towns- I get stared at. It makes me feel really uncomfortable, but what else can you expect when you go to a place where foreigners seldom make appearances?

Yixing is famous for purple clay teapots, and Woody had several being made for him that were ready to be picked up. His were being made by a friend who is a famous teapot maker/calligrapher- and I'm ashamed to admit that I do not know his name. Heck, I didn't know what was going on half the day since everyone was speaking Chinese except me. Anyway, we'll call him "The Potter". So, The Potter took us to a small home where teapots were carefully being made.
It takes about a month (if I caught the facts correctly) to completely finish one pot. Some are made completely done by hand, and some are made from a mold. But even the mold method is very...primitive I suppose you could say- no factories or assembly lines. And ALL the pots are painted by hand. The Potter was giving wonderful details about the clay and the whole method of pot making...all of which I didn't understand a word.

He took us to his studio so Woody could pick up his teapots. The Potter's wife pulled out several different pots, and Woody said to us, "Which one do you like? You can choose one." This guy spoils us rotten, you know. In the Chinese culture, a host is very generous to their guests. I think as Americans this makes us uncomfortable and we feel that me must offer to pay for things, however the Chinese will never accept. We knew these tea pots were quite pricey.
Here is Taylor and Woody in the studio, holding one of The Potter's famous relief style pots.

And here is Taylor with The Potter himself (and his famous calligraphy in the background)

And here is our beautiful new purple clay tea set.

We all went straight from the studio to lunch at a restaurant owned by The Potter's son-in-law. I was given the honor of being "the boss" because I got to sit in the middle seat facing the door. I was hoping this meant that I would be able select some items from the menu, as this is always the job of "the boss". Oh, but this was not so. You see, before I came to China I knew I would have to eat some strange things, and I knew the most dangerous situations were going to be when we were out eating with Chinese people who were paying for our meal, and "the boss" chooses what everyone will eat. You must try everything, so as to not offend.

The dishes slowly arrived one at a time, and because I was "the boss", the food was passed to me first to try. Lucky me, no getting out of anything.

First it was fried shrimp that were complete with lots of legs, heads, and little beady black eyes. Not too bad.

Then there was a dish described as egg with fish.

I hate fish.

I took a big bite, and it actually tasted quite good, not fishy at all. Then Woody pointed out the "fish" to us, which actually were little white wormies (3 inches long, thick as a pencil, no scales) which I had thought were noodles or something. He also pointed out their little black eyes. Suddenly I saw it- I was eating mouthfuls of white wormies with eyes and it was completely recognizable.

It was awful I tell you- I just had to not look and just eat, because it did taste good.

This was followed by more fish and eel. I was keeping strong and eating everything. As I ate, I watched The Potter as he smoked...a half an inch of ash was hanging off the end of his cigarette, and the smoke would come out of his mouth in a thick wave that all went straight back up into his nostrils. I was so intrigued, until I realized how it was making me sick in combination with all the strange food.

Thank goodness all things must come to an end.

We said goodbye to The Potter, and we headed to the Shanjuan caves. Of course, Woody refused to let us pay the entrance fee. It was a beautiful park and very green, such a nice escape from the big city. The cave was filled with colored lights that flickered and flashed, it was very kitchy and psychedelic, the Chinese' favorite way of doing things.

Here is Michael doing his best cave monster impression

As we wandered through the park, we came upon a group of performers taking a break. The boys were shirtless, and the girls were wearing bikini style tops and short skirts- all in leopard print...some sort of primitive caveman dancing??

Woody was teasing Michael for wandering over to them to chat, and added, "Those girls were very sex."

We laughed, corrected his mistake, and all laughed some more.
We rode up to the top of this mountain, and then got to slide down to the bottom. We had to wear these funky parachute pants. It was loads of fun. We were instructed to lean forward so we wouldn't go to fast, because boy was it slick, but of course Taylor disobeyed the rule and leaned back so he would go flying down to smash into me.

We're so lucky to be treated like family here, the very best kind of foreign experience.

This is Taylor- Jodi is always leaving out important pictures and stuff.
Like this one. When we did the super awesome slide I went full speed and smashed right into Jodi who in turn smashed right into Woody and ended up straddling him in an awkward way. I kept going as fast as I could even with the chinese people running the thing yelling at me to slow down. Ever the trouble maker. Just look at that frazzled Jodi face!
cool cave stuff. No Jodi, it's not ugly.
More cool cave stuff. This place was like a rain forest.
cool bamboo- Jodi is allergic to pictures of herself.
drawing water makes Jodi sleepy.
I also invaded China with my award winning face-melting salsa. It was epic.


  1. So fun and you're much more brave than eye, err, I. (Sorry I just can't help it). The tea set is amazing and taylor, thanks for adding some pics of Jodi!

  2. Jodi, you are amazing. I am still soooo jealous.

    Oh yeah, and Jodi, you should post more pictures of yourself. You look very sex. :)

  3. Jodi, you totally jet-starred Woody on the slide! Awkward. And when did Taylor revert to Junior High Days and start wearing those old black and white checkered vans again?

    I like Woody already. Do you think they'll let me take my baby down the slide in her pouch? Maybe I can sneak her on disguised as a hunch on my back.

    I'm proud of you for eating the crazy food! You're growing up right before my very eyes.

  4. No Fair. I want to come back to Shanghai now that you are best friends with Woody. I wouldn't have to creep around his apartment and be afraid of him finding me. I love the tea set. Why didn't we get to have these great adventures? I would have taken the caves and creepy multi-eyed food over the Expo any day.

  5. Ah, we miss you guys! I am gagging after reading about the food. Honestly Jodi, you are seriously such a trooper! YUCK! ALright thats it when are you guys coming back? Cause really these ward bbq's could really use some laughter!

  6. What a great story and pictures.Jody you are so brave trying all that food.You two are having a great time with your friend.You could never do all those trips on your own.Stay well.You looking great.

  7. Oh Bill would be so proud of you two teasing each other with weird food. He would be right there cheering on the winner and laughing with the loser. It is in your blood Tay Tay and Alicia. The legend of my little brother lives on. Hmm..does this mean your children are in for this stuff?