America, boring things made interesting, housecleaning, less food-related

The Turn of the Screw

03.17.11 | Permalink | 4 Comments

When I was a spry elementary school student, one of the extracurriculars my parents arranged for me was a shop class. It was run by a married couple with the last name Hills. Before each class, we sat in Mr. Hills’ living room and recited the Golden Rule, and then he taught us how to [...]

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America, animals, less food-related, Parks

Where the Wild Things Are

03.14.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

While I was living in China, locals in every city used to tell me to visit the city parks because they were ‘natural.’ Indeed, the pretty plots of grass, flowers and trees wedged between concrete behemoths were both social hubs and the closest one could get to anything containing the slightest whiff of nature. Growing [...]

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headaches, huzhou, less food-related, unruly chefs

Hu’s There? The Jasmine Revolution

03.10.11 | Permalink | 3 Comments

I originally wrote this poem, a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when I was living in Huzhou back in 2009, just after the riots in Xinjiang catapulted the region into instability and shut down most of the Internet in China. Plate of Wander was, for a time, blocked, along with many [...]

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florida, home cooking, less food-related, mysterious ingredients, street food

A Whole New Street Food

03.06.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

One of the little rituals John and I have is that every Sunday is Pasta Night. This started back when we were living in Shanghai; Sunday was my longest and most grueling teaching day, and he would have a comforting, carb-y pasta dinner ready when I got home. I actually hadn’t eaten Italian-style pasta (except [...]

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America, Boston, Chinese, entrees, restaurants, Tofu, travel

Winter is a Dish Best Served at Taiwan Cafe

03.04.11 | Permalink | 4 Comments

For the past week I was in Boston, going through internet withdrawal (is anyone else flabbergasted by in-room internet for $13 a day?), appreciating the cold and winter I don’t have to live with, and wandering the streets on both sides of the Charles, drifting along the streets I used to walk so often during [...]

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florida, less food-related, out and about, road trippin'

Calcite on the Soles of My Shoes

03.02.11 | Permalink | 5 Comments

My parents chose not to get cable TV until two months after I left for college, and the rule in effect for many years was No TV During the Week. Obviously, the TV was not a factor in our electricity bills, so it should be no surprise that our home movie collection never amounted to [...]

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America, amuse bouche, animals, less food-related, out and about

Amuse Bouche: A $20 Beetle Landing

02.28.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

At the Garlic Festival in Delray Beach the other week, this was the most interesting thing that happened (though we didn’t try the garlic ice cream): For ten dollars per person at the gate, one would have thought that the landing of a Coccinellid on a t-shirt would not be something to overshadow the actual [...]

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America, Balloons, florida, less food-related, out and about

Culture of Hijinks

02.16.11 | Permalink | 4 Comments

Marrying a balloon artist is a bit like navigating a whole new country, a country that smells vaguely of latex, where one finds balloons of various degrees of inflation in pockets, cars, suitcases, and on the ground or floor. The sudden, unexpected ear-splitting pops are not warring gunfire but balloons breaking. And the natives are [...]

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America, butter, entrees, fish, florida, florida restaurants, restaurants, Shanghai, weekend nom

Weekend Nom: Havana Hideout

02.13.11 | Permalink | 3 Comments

Sometimes when I’m bored, I like to play a game: What would I eat right now if I were in China? Usually the answer is eggplant, Sichuan, Muslim, tofu—ok well I’d eat pretty much any Chinese food. When I was living in China I used to play this game but change it to What would [...]

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America, beijing, huzhou, less food-related, MEAT, musings, Reverse Culture Shock, Shanghai, teaching


02.11.11 | Permalink | 6 Comments

When I taught college in Huzhou, I used to do a unit on the stages of life: baby, toddler, kid, adolescent, teenager, adult, etc. I used to also teach my students the ages that Americans could drive, buy cigarettes, vote, and drink. They were always amazed that the drinking age is 21, as there is [...]

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