Animal stories: The drooling horse…

If you grew up in the Chicago area, you will no doubt appreciate a very particular kind of humor. Right now I am back in Montana visiting my lovely sister Jen, and we were trying to put our finger on exactly what defines Chicago humor.  You definitely know it when you see it — Son…

Dim Sum — with special guest star!

For those who don’t know, the University Services Center at CUHK is an amazing, globally unique collection of materials on 20th century China, much of which dates from a time that Hong Kong served as a sort of listening station for the mainland. So it’s a sort of Mecca for China scholars, and a pretty…

North beef-south beef – carnivorizing about in Shenzhen

When I was first learning Chinese in Taiwan, I remember being told that one of the teachers (who I didn’t know) had become gravely ill because of “wind.” This of course put my imagination on edge – was it pollution? extreme flatulence? They couldn’t explain, and I couldn’t ask. I discovered the answer some years…

Shenzhen – double skin milk

Its been a couple of weeks and a few thousand kilometers since Bayannuur. After that, I went on an epic train journey through Hohhot, Chifeng, Tongliao and Qiqihar – arriving three days and some visible beard growth later back in Hailar. Hailar was basically the three r-s, resting, riting, and running so apart from the…

Seriously, Bayannuur, what the hell? (also, sheep)

Here’s a trick for you. The next time you find yourself in the mountains, or specifically find yourself leaving the mountains, make sure to bring a loaf of bread. Pack it nicely so it doesn’t get smooshed in your luggage, and then open it up at sea level. I did this recently when I left Lanzhou….

Lanzhou night market – sweet egg milk

Hello from Lanzhou! This is the big industrial city of the Northwest, once known for its horrific pollution. Now that the pollution is mostly cleaned up, I’m not sure what it’s known for, but my guess would be noodles. Every city has at least one Lanzhou beef noodles shop. Since I am pretty tired of…

Qinghai – and the best yoghurt in China

Someone call Professor Oak, because I’ve officially caught them all. I had already traveled through most of China in the late 1990s, but Qinghai was the last one – the one place I had never been. I finally made the trip last week, and just to celebrate the occasion, the gods of travel decided to…

Milk of Mongolia

Did you know that I am very interested in milk? Most people who have spent more than two minutes with me tend to become aware of that, at which point they decide that two minutes was already more than enough, thank you. I am still in Hulunbuir, having had a very eventful couple of weeks,…

Back in Hulunbuir – dry fried beef 干煸牛肉丝

Well, I’m an idiot. My original plan was to take the slow and winding train trip from Shenzhen to Hailar. This was actually two trips, about 28 hours from Shenzhen to Zhangjiakou, and then another 33 hours from Zhangjiakou to Hailar. I did the first trip, and met lots of fun people, including the manager…

Zhangjiakou – terminus of the Mongol trade

For years I have wanted to visit Zhangjiakou. Sure everyone says they want to go there, but how many people actually do? Wait – what I meant was that nobody says they want to go there. In fact, why don’t you just go ahead and enjoy that first sentence again, since I’m fairly sure that nobody…

Cows in Hong Kong (no brisket)

And… now I am in Hong Kong! If there are two more different places on this planet than Bozeman, Montana and Hong Kong, I have yet to see them. Strangely, one thing that the two places share in common is cows. Let me explain. The way we see the world is situational. If you are hungry, you…