In the past seven days I've been a guest for three different delicious meals, including traditional hot pot served in a copper pot heated by coals, local Shandong cuisine in a countryside restaurant, and a seafood in a private banquet room. We had tender and succulent spring rolls that were quite unlike anything we'd have before. More clams? Yes, please. The delicious variety of vegetables makes it a pleasure to eat our veggies. And as long as you're not fussy about encountering a head or a foot (of a chicken that is) in a bowl of chicken stew, the chicken dishes are great.
We eat breakfast at home, although breakfast is available at the dining hall. I wouldn't want to join the morning rush in there, though. The students pile into the dining hall and often get something to go, including a cup of warm soy milk, which they proceed to bring in to class to eat, even though they are not supposed to. And of course, although we happiily chow down on Chinese food for lunch and dinner, we want toast and something for breakfast.
For lunch at the campus we go to the dining hall where I can fill my cafeteria tray for 1.5 yuan. Since Ross is not on the faculty, he has to pay 15 yuan. The students told me they spend about 15 yuan per day in the dining hall for their meals. The teacher's dining hall only serves lunch so sometimes we go to the student's dining hall for dinner where we can get meat, rice and two vegetables for 9 yuan, or noodle soup or duck soup or lots of other things we haven't tried yet. Nobody is claiming that the dining hall is a temple of gastronomy, but the price is right and the staff are friendly.
The mystery spice that makes our lips go numb appears to be the green hemp pepper. It is a seed, not a pepper. And I don't think it comes from the hemp plant. It is supposed to be good for the blood.
Right now I'm waiting for Ross to come back from our favorite neighborhood noodle place (one of their dishes is pictured at upper left in the gallery above.). I've got a bit of cold and something swimming in broth is in order.