There’s a Chinese tradition behind all that free lettuce (mentioned in yesterday’s post) that I learned today; when China was still very poor, lettuce was one of the few available vegetables people could eat during the wintertime. Now any kind of vegetable can grow, or be chemically produced, in the cold season but for older generations eating lettuce has become a wintertime tradition, for that’s all they had. Although, rather than calling it a tradition, I would say it is more of a habit since being restricted to lettuce wasn’t exactly by choice (though not all traditions are practiced by choice either…). Anyhow, now it makes sense to me why my neighborhood is handing out free lettuce–overproduction and contractors are just convenient excuses for keeping this tradition alive. Whatever, I’ll take it!
Another mystery I solved today was how window washers (aka Chinese Spidermen) do their job: they sit on wooden planks wound tightly to a rope which a lady at the bottom holds onto (for unknown reasons) from which they slowly descend! Brave souls; I commend you!
Something that still remains a mystery to me, however, is why there are so many old school thermoses parked by the bikes at this university, though they do add a nice touch of color to the campus.
I thought these things were “vintage” now. I’ve seen mini versions of them at stores sold along Maoist propaganda that has become part of the pop culture. It’s so hipster–Chinese style. I should stock up while I’m still young and relatively cool.
Two mysteries solved! Infinitely more to go.
Today is “Lidong,” the beginning of winter on the lunar calendar. Funny because it was mighty warm today, though the sun did go down around 5 pm.
The view at work was clear because it drizzled early this morning. Normally, my view looks like this:
Winter is lovely, but the sun goes down too early making the last stretch of work absolute torture.
For my friends who care, this is what my office looks like:
And for those same friends, can you picture me in one of those slots under the translucent lighting??! I can barely sit still in front of a TV in a cozy living room!
Lidong… yes, on Lidong Chinese people traditionally eat dumplings. But who follows traditions anymore? Instead, I came home to a MOUND of surprise.
My neighborhood was handing out free LETTUCE! Insecticide-free! Each apartment unit can carry home 2 bags. My mom and I hate turning down free things, so in the elevator we went with our share.
Why, you might ask, is our neighborhood distributing lettuce to its residents? It’s because a nearby farm yielded way more lettuce than they could sell (one gigantic head of lettuce at the market costs .90 Yuan, which is about a $0.16, so basically it’s worth nothing). More significantly, however, it’s because contractors bought the land and need to clear it for apartment complexes that will be sold at exorbitant rates.
Anyhow, this lettuce is going to last all winter long. I foresee a mountain of dumplings, endless bowls of chicken soup and maybe even kimchi (which is Korean!) in the upcoming months. Too bad I don’t have rabbits or turtles to share my treasure with.
Sleep tight, sweet lettuceheads.