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December 20, 2004

Cuisine for discriminating cannibals, etc

Hi, all. Terry here. I want to second Norty's endorsement of World Without Thieves. Great movie. I know it is being released in the US right about now. Go see it. I am sure our appreciation of the movie was greatly enhanced by having spent a year here, but I think anyone would like it a lot. The male leading character is played by Andy Lau, a Hong Kong actor who is also a hugely popular singer over here. I have one of his CDs and I listen to it all the time. He has a terrific voice. He's also a total babe, IMHO!

About the cannibal food.... When Norty and I were in Shanghai to celebrate our anniversary (18 years, can you believe it?!), we went to a nice restaurant with friends. The menu had a section allegedly devoted to vegetarian items, and one of the dishes was listed as "Mixed Vegetarians". I laughed until I got the hiccups! Norty and I decided that's what ethical cannibals would eat. BTW: One of the things that complicates vegetarian life in China is that the Chinese think that sea creatures like jellyfish and sea cucumbers are vegetables!

Norty already told you that, later that night, we went to a Shanghai jazz club called the Cotton Club. Norty said he was disappointed not to hear the Chinese woman who is supposed to sound like Ella Fitzgerald, but I wasn't. What we got instead was a white guy who was channeling Muddy Waters! Much more my style. Picture it: this 300-pound, well over 6 feet tall, American white guy, belting out amazing Delta blues, flanked by two short, skinny Chinese horn players (saxophone and trumpet), another really tall American playing lead guitar, a Brit on the drums and a short, plump Chinese bass guitar player. I was getting pretty homesick for American music, and this was just terrific! We had a wonderful time. In fact, we stayed until past 1am! You know we're not exactly the staying out late kind, so you know we were having fun. The place was packed - about 2/3 Westerners and 1/3 Chinese - and unbelievably smoky. The next day I felt as if I had smoked 3 packs of cigarettes myself. Most Chinese men smoke, and there's no such thing as a no-smoking area. (When I went to the local hospital for my residency physical, I saw doctors smoking while they examined people!) Nevertheless, it was great fun. I can't wait to go again.

We spent our Thanksgiving with about 20 other American expats here in Nantong. One of the big US companies here (Celanese) invited everyone to eat in their executive dining room, and their Chinese chef made a fabulous traditional Thanksgiving dinner! Except for the turkey and gravy, everything else was vegetarian (including the stuffing), so Norty and I were able to pig out along with everyone else.

Miscellaneous trivia:
You know how Westerners point to their chests when they are indicating themselves? Well Chinese people point to their noses! It took me the longest time to figure that out!

If you go to see World Without Thieves, you may wonder why the gang of bad guys on the train are all wearing red baseball caps. It's because they are trying to pose as a tourist group. If you go sightseeing in a group here, the guide gives each person in the group a baseball cap (all the same color) so the guide can keep track of everyone.

That's all, folks.

Posted by now at December 20, 2004 04:23 PM