"" Writer's Wanderings: Beijing--"on a stick"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beijing--"on a stick"

Our olympic athletes and visitors will experience many tasty treats, I'm sure, while they are in China. And perhaps they will even be brave enough to try some of the delicacies we found our first night in Beijing. Here's another excerpt from my China journal:

After dinner, a short walk from the hotel leads us to a pedestrian mall a couple blocks away. Just a block from our hotel, we pass a Catholic church (St. Joseph Cathedral). Lots of people stroll through the gardens in front of it and take pictures. I am surprised to see a church here that has obviously been extablished for quite some time.

The mall has lots of shops located in buildings but we find an alleyway that looks interesting. It is crowded and narrow but lined with all sorts of booths selling food items. This looks like the “real” China. There is everything you can imagine on a stick and fried. I literally gasp as I see seahorses displayed on a stick—obviously a delicacy. There are all sorts of meat products, raw and ready to be fried. Next we pass bugs on a stick, scorpions, and trays of other things we can’t identify. The one thing that looks appetizing resembles small apples on a stick with a clear candy glaze over them. Lots of people are munching on them. I’m afraid to try it.

The farther into the alley we walk, the more awful it smells—a mix of hot cooking oils and exotic foodstuffs including many seafood products like squid. Past the foodstuffs, there are booths like a flea market but this is all new product—mostly cheap souvenir items mixed with clothing and handbags and small electronics. It would be more fascinating if it wasn’t so crowded and we weren’t bumped along. I clutch my purse under my armpit.

Dodging cars and buses we cross the street successfully again on our return to the hotel. Thankfully, at one corner there is a traffic control person. I think the word oxymoron fits here. There is no control of traffic. And pedestrians are low on the food chain.

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