Braised Pork Belly and Yale Lightweight Crew in Beijing

3 08 2010

First and foremost, a big thank you for all the positive feedback I’ve been getting on this. We’re looking at close to 150 hits a day, and I hope you guys enjoying reading it as much as I enjoy updating.

It’s been a busy few days around here, and to avoid writing too much, I’ll just touch on the more interesting experiences. On Sunday evening, dear friend Aaron Reiss had a potluck dinner for his last night in his beautiful hutong. For those of you who don’t know, the hutong is a very traditional Beijing living quarter, with rooms surrounding communal kitchens and a beautiful courtyard. Rapid urbanization has destroyed most of them, but the ones that remain, my god are they charming.

So I decided to try my hand at the infamous red braised pork belly. It’s a slow cooked dish that consists of arguably my favorite cut of meat; with layers of striated fat and tender meat, the belly simmers in a mixture of soy sauce, cooking wine, star anise, and a bevy of other goodies for a few hours. I’d eaten the dish thousands of times, but have never actually handled the meat itself. The lovely lizzie (pictured below) took me to the local open air market next door, where the meatlady literally pulled out an entire underside of a pig, and cut me off a savory sliver on the spot. The evening really was fantastic, new friends were made with beer and sweet potato chips aplenty. Being shirtless and cooking and covered in pig blood, I didn’t have any opportunities to take pictures of the actual food per se…but I’ll find some eventually for this.

I guess the next big thing is my actual job…which started yesterday. So I’m working with the Natural Resource Defense Council here in Beijing through a Princeton in Asia fellowship. The office is in a really nice high rise on the 16th floor, not but a short ten minute walk from my apartment. There are a lot of little food stands with some strange offerings on the way, so I’ll try to go through most of them on my way to work in the morning. As of now, I’m responsible for helping organize two conferences in September for mid-level government officials on low carbon smart urban growth? Exciting, I know. But if anyone’s interested, you can read about some of the cool stuff we’re working on

Lastly, I had a surprise visit from the Yale lightweight crew team last night, as they were finishing up a race here in Beijing. It was good to see Grunky and Jhop again, and the rest of the team proved to be really fun as well. A trip to the Silk Market was an exercise in patience and haggling prowess, and once again, Phillip Yang emerged victorious. Purses, shoes, shirts, ties, scarves, even a leather jacket (none of which was…actually purchased by me). All haggled down to a quarter of asking price. Just exhausting.

Afterwards, we walked down to Wangfujing, the night market area of Beijing where street vendors will literally cook anything that moves. Again, I couldn’t grab pictures (but i’ll steal some from the crew boys later to post), but last night’s menu included scorpion, snake meat, starfish, lizard, and sheep testicles. And to wash it all down, some of the local moonshine, innocently known as baijiu (or white liquor). It’s firewater swill.

The otherwise fantastic evening came to a sobering conclusion with a stark reminder that, yes, this is still China. In front of myself, 12 some six foot tall crew boys, and a crowd of other foreign tourists, a homeless man was dragged along the floor from the alley by his collar by two men and shoved into a giant police bus. And I kid you not, proceeded to be beat with nightsticks in the bus as it drove away. And as if that weren’t the most upsetting part of it all, we were the only ones in the crowd who seemed to be bothered by the whole disturbance. My guess is that he was being homeless in a touristy area, and refused to leave after being asked by authorities to do so. Fucked up yeah?





One response

7 08 2010

charming home, charming friends your a lucky man

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