Sunday, August 22, 2010

our flatmates don't like Italian food

On Saturday Josh made a delicious fresh tomato-mushroom sauce to go with the rest of our gnocchi. Yum. Our flatmates both had the afternoon off, so they were home when we finished and we invited them to dinner. They agreed after a bit of humming and hawing and we all sat down in the sun room for our meal. We had the gnocchi and some extra sharp cheddar cheese Jessi brought for us as a topping. Xiao Yu (the younger of our two flatmates; she went to college in Chengdu and is half Tibetan) put out a bowl of left over cucumber salad (a spicy dish with cucumbers, oil, and hot pepper). Both girls gamely took a bowl of gnocchi and Xiao Yu even decided to use a fork to eat hers. Zhuo Ma (our other flatmate; she spent the previous 9 years dancing in the shows here. She just turned 24, so she started dancing at 14! She is full Tibetan; they are from the same city originally) opted for chopsticks and it was quickly clear that she strongly preferred the cucumber salad. They thought the gnocchi were kind of weird and when they tried the cheese Xiao Yu couldn't contain herself and said "That is a very strange flavor!". She tried to describe it but had nothing to compare it to. Zhuo Ma managed to choke down half of one little piece (we had grated it!). Zhuo Ma eventually resorted to dumping the sauce from the cucumber salad into her bowl of gnocchi and then didn't finish it, left the table early, and went to get Dicos (local KFC knock-off). Xiao Yu ate her whole bowl and said that though she isn't used to it, it is good to try different foods. Then while she was helping us clean up, she noticed all the spices we have (actually not that many) and was telling me that making western food must be so complicated because there are so many different flavors to use. In Sichuan cooking you only use salt, soy sauce, vinegar, msg, spicy pepper, and sichuan pepper. Basically every dish has all of those in different amounts. I told her that we are used to variety in our food flavors, so to us Sichuan food all tastes the same. It was an interesting cultural experience for all of us.

We moved around the furniture over the weekend and discovered that mice have been eating sunflower seeds under our tv stands. The girls didn't seem to connect that to their food left out and on Sunday when they were eating walnuts, I told them that the mice *love* walnuts, so to be careful. I'm not sure they really get how to keep the mice from wanting to be in our house by keeping the food out of reach.

Last night we had another unfortunate bad flatmate experience. I woke up at 3:45 to go to the bathroom and noticed that they weren't home. Before I fell back asleep I heard them come in (the front door is kind of loud) and get ready for bed. Then for at least 15 minutes someone was banging on the front door. I almost got up in my pjs to go yell at the person. I assume it wasn't Zhuo Ma or Xiao Yu, but I don't know. Then someone started yelling at the door. Yikes! Not appropriate 4 am behavior! Both girls were asleep this morning so I didn't get to ask about it. I thought maybe Zhuo Ma's creepy on-again off-again boyfriend was there. She is supposed to be staying away from him because he's such a creep and is not faithful (a mutual friend described him as worse than a dog because a dog knows to go home at night). I'd rather he stay out of the house anyway since he was the smoking instigator last weekend. In any case, I will try to figure out at lunch time why they were out so late (probably work) and who was pounding the door. If it was one of the girls and she got locked out, I would feel rather badly that I didn't go open it.

Other than that excitement, our weekend primarily consisted of bike riding. We rode 60 km on Saturday (1315 m elevation gain) and 46 km on Sunday (1400 elevation gain). Sunday we drove up to only about 7 km from the end of our Saturday right so that we could ride somewhere different. I think we'll start there next Saturday too. It was a nice road, though a bit steep. Next weekend we are aiming to get up over the pass at the top of that road. We got within 100 m of it yesterday. We also ate at a new guesthouse with a nice western restaurant. I had a tuna sandwich (Yum!). It seems like since we've been riding so much I've been wanting to eat more protein, so we've been eating more eggs and also have been getting things like tuna pizza or tuna sandwiches when we go for western food. I think we'll buy some tuna in Chengdu when we're there.

Speaking of going to Chengdu, the roads are quite bad and we aren't sure exactly which route we'll take. It took our friend 30 hrs on the bus to get to Chengdu. Yikes! We are thinking about going the long way without any mountain passes and not the route buses take. We should figure it out at the end of this week. Also will take sleeping bags in case we have to sleep in the car (which is what happened to our friend on the bus).

I'm off for now.

amanda :)

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