It’s smokin’ hot in Shanghai, dear readers, from the woks to the pavement to the gossip. Sizzlin’! I cannot (publically) comment on the latter but let’s just say my address has officially changed, once again, from the Jewel Box to Peyton Place. Boo! Hiss! Lordy. What happened to flying underneath the radar? Let’s just say whack! jobs live in my neighborhood and I am not one of them ….
Moving along …. on Wednesday, Bea Long and I went to a “simple and fun Chinese cooking class” in a high-rise apartment across town. The chef and his wife, a Hong-kinese couple and his wife, lived in Hawaii for thirty years and now give Cantonese cooking classes to expat ladies of leisure. Lily Allen played on a stereo in the background as six women watched Mr. Choo mince and chop! chop! , a cleaver in each hand. The backsides of his hands looked as smooth as puff pastry but the palms of his hands were criss-crossed with creases like a San Francisco city map, peaks and valleys of flesh grooved by over-exposure to heat, water, and knives. The recipes were in English, the tiny kitchen pristine with good gas burners (Siemens), and some of the women … downright weird. Meow! One dour Aussie said she was allergic to peppers of all kinds which begs the question of why she even came. Maybe she thought we’d make noodles?
The menu of the day consisted of ginger fried rice, chicken and bell peppers with sacha sauce, and eggplant stuffed with minced pork in black bean sauce. YUM! Mr. and Mrs. Choo told us where to get every ingredient, down to which aisle in Carrefour. For example, the best sacha sauce (made with fish and shrimp) comes from Taiwan. Along with the all the national treasures, the KMT party took all the good sauces, it turns out. Mr. Choo cleaned the kitchen and washed dishes as he explained about flavors, importance of vegetable size, and slicing techniques.
At $20 for the lesson and lunch, it was a bang! for my buck. Get out your chopsticks, Radish.
On a side note, today is our former maid Nilda’s birthday. On Monday I stayed home this week and unloaded junk from the final two moving boxes sitting in my bedroom. (Just so we are clear, there are plenty of unopened boxes in other parts of the house.) I had been thinking of Nilda for a long time, wondering how she was. Gamamae had hold me she had returned to her parents’ home in Rondonia but did not have the phone number and I had lost my address book with her cell phone number in it in Hong Kong. But there, amongst all the bits and bobs was an envelope from last summer with her sister’s phone number on it. Something had made me keep that envelope and I found it in the nick! of time. I called her sister who gave me the telephone number in Rondonia. We got up early this morning and rang the birthday girl, knock!ing her socks off in the process. She is doing well, taking care of her parents, and looking for a boyfriend. My kind of woman. We miss her so!
The news from Sichuan continues to get worse. McDonalds is sending 10,000 gift bags with hand-written notes from children. Thing 3 wrote how sad she was the victims of the earthquake were “suffering from death”. Keep them in your hearts, these poor displaced people. The situation is overwhelming. Have you ever heard of “quake lakes”? Me neither until last week. Sharon Stone made news in China by opining that the earthquake was “bad karma” . Hmmm … will she think the same when her house slides into the sea in California’s Big One? KA-BOOM! Was it bad karma when she had a brain aneurysm? Or was that just science? Or was God getting her back for ignoring her basic instincts and making poor choices in her acting roles? Mull that one over and get back to me, moviegoers.