Friday, March 30, 2007

Spicey Cow Cartilages

After the 2 free preview classes...

Richard finds a street-front noodle shop on he way back to the car-park. It’s a shotgun place - like a hallway with tables on one side. We squeeze past everyone’s table (hmm, that looks good, I wonder what it is?) on the way to ours. Menus are on the table under a sheet of plastic - they are the table top. And they’re in Chinese.

Now, this isn’t bad thing to me. I like adventure. Richard has them get me a menu in English and ruins the fun of food roulette - a game I call "Point & Pray" where you point to some Chinese writing and pray you can eat the dish without gagging when they bring it.. I decide to order "glass noodle with pork dumpling" - how can you go wrong with that? Richard orders in Chinese. The coffee is kicking in and I’m a little jittery – I order Sprite with fruit slices. That’s what’s on the menu. If you want just plain Sprite, good luck. Comes with fruit slices.

They bring the drinks - waitress squeezing between the tables and the walls - and then she goes back for the noodles. The other people are mostly young, and they look like they may have been out clubbing. The waitresses are about the same age, but instead of wearing dresses and flaring skirts, they’re in bright orange uniforms. If someone is coming from the back of the restaurant, they have to wait until they leave before they can come down with the food - there just isn’t enough room for 2 people.

The glass noodles aren’t really made of glass, but they are wide and transparent - like really long window panes. There are leafy greens and a half dozen pork dumplings in the soup, too. Looks good. The pork dumplings are tasty.

Richard has some kind of soup with traditional noodles... and the waitress comes back with a plate of spring rolls and something really weird looking. The rolls are delicious - filled with something savory, and I ask Richard what’s on the plate.

"Spicy Cow Cartilages."

Doesn’t that just make your mouth water?

Now, just because something is *called* spicy cow cartilages doesn’t mean that it is actually made form cow cartilages. Could be anything. Looks weird, though. Slices of gelatin with something stringy in it in a red pepper sauce garnished with scallions.

"What is it made with?"

"Cow cartilages. They cook them until they are very soft and pleasant to eat. Try one."

I grab one with my chopsticks... or *try* to grab one - they’re kind of slimy. I eventually get one using the chopstick s a spear. I bring it up to my mouth and... well, it’s kind of rubbery. And spicy. And... well who thought of eating cow cartilidges in the first place? That doesn’t just spring to mind. Hey, those cartilages might not be so gristly is we slow cooked them! And I’ll bet they taste kind of slimy!

I accidentally dropped my second spicy cow cartilage into my noodles and watched it slowly dissolve as I ate around it. Soon, only the stringy part was left. I ate all of my dumplings, all of the veggies and over half of the glass noodles... and that was enough. I actually ate another piece of spicy cow cartilage just to show how tough I was (tougher than the cartilage) and a couple of the savory rolls.

We squeezed out of the restaurant, found the car (my laptop had not been stolen) and drove back to Richard’s mother’s. I was both exhausted and jittery from the coffee - and could not sleep. I just know I’m going to be a mess by this weekend - I’ll either have a cold or just be zonked from lack of sleep. I slept fitfully all night long.

- Bill

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