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November 16th
Day one and two of week three were a complete local failure. In a very expatty style I went to yoga, had a lunch meeting at Flamme, bought vitamins and protein powder from the World Health Store and attended an 85 Broads Event at the Royal Smushi House. Luckily I’m only losing this challenge to myself, and I got to hear May Xue (recently appointed CEO of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art) give a talk about her one-woman charge to try and officially register UCCA as the first foreign NGO in China. Go May!

November 17th
Back on track. While grocery shopping I made it my mission to explore the nooks and crannies of Jinkelong, really trying to read packages and understand the contents of mystery jars instead of just assuming that I wouldn’t know the ingredients inside. To my surprise, I could understand more of the pinyin on the packaging than I imagined, and in general the aisles felt a bit more familiar than we I first arrived to China. I bought ingredients for a big stir fry, but still find it hard to produce quality Chinese meal without significant amounts of processed carbs like noodles, rice and bread, which isn’t the best diet for running. (Hence the WHS trip.)

November 18th
I finally checked out Bao Yuan Jiaozi restaurant with my co-workers from The Hutong, and was impressed by the décor and colorful dumplings! (I also went to a talk given by the founder of Heyrobics, and had a work dinner at Carmen.)

November 19th
I spent a good bit of the day biking around in attempting to collect my wallet because it was (miraculously) dropped off at a hotel near Dawanglu, and the management called my apartment complex when they saw my swipe card. Wow, complete miracle! I then headed with Chef Sue Zhou to check out some local spots in Tuanjiehu. She showed me a great baozi place called Bao Rong Xing Bao Jer, where I tried Si HuLuobuo fen tiao (carrot and starch noodle) baozi for the first time. Sue tells me that more and more restaurants are adding starch noodles as fillers, because it’s a cheap way to fill up the baozi. I also tried another bun with a surprise quail egg inside, very tasty! We also went to a typical Chinese pudding shop, where we had warm coconut and red bean pudding. Red beans are just about my favorite dessert, so it was the perfect snack.

November 20th
Typical Chinese-style lunch at school, otherwise not much to report.

November 21st
My friend Aveleigh and I checked out No. 8 Hot Springs Resort at Chaoyang Park West gate. These types of resorts are quite a foreign concept to westerners, but it’s definitely a must-have experience in China. First, the staff gives you silk pajamas before eating at their unlimited buffet. I get a kick out of seeing a whole room of adults sitting around in their pj’s eating food and relaxing. Next, it’s off to the spa! For 198RMB (including food) at No. 8 Hot Springs you can relax all day in the hot springs pool, sauna and steam rooms. The spa also offers other services at an additional cost, and I made the mistake of requesting a “peeling” thinking that this would be similar to a facial. Um, no. I got a somewhat painful full body scrub that polished every part of my body except my face… Overall though I felt like I was living in a fairy tale with pink silk pajamas, unlimited food and lounging!

November 21st
My bike lock broke on my bike, and I pushed it on its front wheel through the hutongs to the shop where I purchased the piece of junk. The owners smashed it off with a hammer in about thirty seconds and gave me a different type, no wonder so many bikes are stolen in Beijing. Then I met up with colleagues at the new U-Town Blue Frog for dinner.

Conclusion:
I wonder if the local local gods are spiting me because of all the Western food I have been eating. First it was a bike crash, then wallet stolen and finally a broken bike lock…
Well gods, I feel guilty enough about my non-local choices, so I don’t need the reminder! This week I realized more than ever that I do still work in expat circles, and many of these mealtime meetings were just unavoidable. Maybe it seems like I have failed this challenge, but every week I have managed to have had new cultural experiences and I’m developing a more clear picture of why it is tough for foreigners to integrate into local culture. Don’t count me out just yet!

Beijinger article.

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I have been wanting to buy a juicer and blender for a while now, so the Raw Food Potluck lunch at the World Health Store in Beijing provided as good of motivation as any to make the purchase. After a fierce battle between two saleswomen at Century Mart, I went with the Joyoung blender for 199RMB. It came with attachments for juicing, grinding and making soy milk, so I’m pretty excited to try out all of the functions. After buying the blender I went to Lohao Organic food store to pick up some ingredients for two raw food recipes I read about online. Upon arriving home I had a brief photo shoot with my blender and all items I had purchased or already had in the house which would soon be used to make blended creations.

My first recipe for the raw food potluck was lettuce wraps. Although the avocados I bought were unripe, so I added one instead of two, the end product tasted more like salsa than guacamole but still tasted great. The recipe went as follows:

Raw Food Diet Lettuce Wraps

-Diced tomatoes (I used a combination of cherry and regular)
-Diced avocado
-Diced onion
-Diced jalapeno
-Cilantro
-Fresh lemon and lime juice
-Dash of salt
-Big leafs of lettuce to wrap contents up!

*Recipe adapted from www.living-foods.com/recipes

Part 2 of the raw food lunch consisted of raw pumpkin pudding. I was very skeptical that raw pumpkin would taste alright, and I had to cut the pumpkin into pretty small pieces before the blender would take them…but this dish turned out even better than the first!

Raw Pumpkin Pudding

-Cut skin off one small, sweet pumpkin
-Dice into small pieces
-Fill blender about 1/10th full with coconut milk and blend with pumpkin
-Pour into bowl
-Garnish generously with flaxseeds, finely chopped dates, banana and walnut
-Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste

*Recipe adapted from Gina on www.goneraw.com

It took quite a while to source all of these materials and ingredients in Beijing, but after visiting a few stores and markets I found all of the necessary ingredients. David and I also tried spinach-banana smoothies and no-bake coconut-date biscotti made by local Raw Food chef, Jennifer McCLelland (http://www.jennifermcclelland.com/)

In principle I think the Raw Food Diet makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t advocate entirely uncooked or unheated foods, but promotes eating as much raw food as possible. In practice it’s very difficult to maintain this diet with an active lifestyle, as you must constantly be planning your next meal and making daily trips to buy fresh fruits and veggies. Despite the fact that I’ve already had pasta for dinner, I am going to continue to try some of these recipes and aim to eat raw when possible. For more information about a raw food diet, About.com has a pretty good overview: http://altmedicine.about.com/od/popularhealthdiets/a/Raw_Food.htm

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