Last night we made the trek--that is, we walked down the street five or six blocks--to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Very Chinese, don't you think? (On our walk, we passed by our local Subway, where you can, in fact, have it your way--I checked. Although I'd recommend staying away from the roast beef--trust me. Go with the ham.)
Anyway, Outback. Why, you are possibly wondering, would we go to the Outback for dinner with plenty of cheaper--and arguably better--restaurants closer to our apartment? (And if you aren't wondering, too bad because I'm going to tell you anyway.) One word: salads, which are in short supply here in most restaurants, which is to say they are basically non-existent. Why, you are again possibly wondering, and again I give you the same I-don't-care-if-you-are-or-not caveat. This time, two words: night soil.
If you are not familiar with that term, here are three words that will explain it: human, excrement, and fertilizer. Yes, that's right. Fruit and vegetables around here are grown with night soil. Maybe not all of them, but since night soil can carry a bunch of lovely diseases--hepatitis or typhoid, anyone?--you just have to assume that pretty much anything you buy is contaminated. For most items, this isn't a big deal--you wash it, peel it, and then eat it like you normally would. ("Normal" being a relative term here, of course.)
Lettuce, however, is another matter, which bring us to the salad issue: how, exactly, do you wash and/or peel salad? You don't of course, which means that the lettuce would have to be boiled, and--while I haven't personally tried it--I'm guessing that "boiled lettuce" does not rank high in terms of taste. Somewhere between Brussel sprouts and, well, night soil itself, I'd imagine--hence the lack of salad of Chinese cuisine.
So, to make a short story even more unnecessarily long, this is why you have to go to either a big Western restaurant (Subway, McDonald's, Outback, and so on) or an expensive hotel to get lettuce you can actually eat. And after a few days of nothing but stir-fried meat and rice, a salad starts to sound pretty good, which should also be added to the "things I never thought I'd say" file. It's not quite as shocking as Homer saying "Hmmm, salad"--unless, of course, it's a donut salad--but it's pretty close. Is it wrong that a donut salad sounds pretty good right now?
Hmmm, donut salad ...
Pictures. I finally got around to uploading the pictures from the Summer Palace. Again, there's only eighteen--including the Long Corridor, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, and the Marble Boat that I mentioned the other day--which is not that many pictures considering the place is over 700 acres. So if you want to get technical about it (and obviously I do) that's only one picture for every forty acres or so, which I don't think is so bad.
The picture below is an example of what I talked about the other day: photos with random Chinese people. We were at the Summer Palace and this little Chinese girl wanted her boyfriend to take a picture of her with the girls, so I stood behind him and took a picture of my own.
Lisa, Kristin, Forever Nameless Chinese Girl, and Holly
(Lisa and Kristin--besides being happy to actually be named on this blog--are also the mysterious other "two Microsoft recruiters" I've mentioned from time to time.)