Further evidence

By yesterday, many offices were closed for Chunjie (Spring Festival), though our office was officially open until today. As with many other holidays, most of our staff, including the Americans, worked on Saturday and Sunday, basically trading those two days to have extra days off after the New Year. So the next regular work day is not until 13 February, though we have so many deadlines in the near future that most of the expats will be working most of the days, whether in the office or from our apartments.

Anyway, all that is just an introduction to this picture:
This is an office that shares the fifth floor with us. The company name, Juto (or jutou in proper pinyin), means Gigantic Head. I don’t really know anything about them, but it’s a great name for a media company. I hope they’re as cool as their name.

Are those mice or rats?

Okay, maybe I’m obsessing over the whole rat/mouse thing. I promise to stop. Unless I find any really interesting examples to share.

The other night I was invited out to dinner by one of the workers in the Olympic Committee’s ticketing office. He took me to a place that he used to go to a lot but hasn’t visited in a few years. It’s one of the restaurants along the famous Gui Jie (Ghost Street) which is between the office and Seasons Park. It’s a rather unassuming place that is known for this dish (the one on the right):
Spicy shrimp. Really spicy shrimp. They’re cooked whole in enough hot peppers to kill a whole colony of rats (oops!) along with whole cloves of garlic and a bunch of Sichuan pepper (huajiao or flower pepper). It was pretty tasty, with the only problem being the miniscule amount of meat on each shrimp. But those are the biggest they can get this time of year. I’m told that for the same price in the summer time you get the same number of shrimp, only they’re a lot larger. They give you plastic gloves to wear so you can pick the shrimp up and peel them without getting the sauce on your hands. If you happened to rub your eyes with traces of that stuff on your fingers, I bet you’d be in serious pain.

We also had a selection of cold vegetables with a dipping sauce (more or less the same sauce as you usually get with duck). Later on a crock of “special” tofu (doufu in Chinese) showed up, and later still, a big fish cooked in the same basic style as the shrimp. Mmm, my mouth is watering now from the memory. Good stuff, though not for the faint-tongued.
Yes, it’s another random shot of construction in Beijing. The tall buildings behind on the right side are Seasons Park. Notice the old restaurant front that they left intact. There’s actually still glass in those windows. Last summer and fall, that restaurant (which hasn’t been open since I moved here) housed a bunch of squatters and reeked most unpleasantly. It’s kind of nice that they left the old gateway standing. I’m pretty sure it will be more apartments going up here. This construction site is the noisiest one around nowadays, with crashing, crunching grinding and banging from early in the morning till late at night every day. I’m hoping it’ll quiet down a little for Chunjie, though if it does, I’m sure the fireworks will make up for the noise.


  1. They look like crawdaddy's to me. Are they shrimp?


  2. On the menu, the English actually said "lobster" but our Chinese teacher told us that it's a common tactic to call shrimp lobsters to make them sound more special. The Mandarin words for them are kind of vague, and not closely tied to actual species of animals like the English names. Kind of like they do with mice and rats - had to get that in there!

    To be honest, the shells on these buggers were much heavier than typical shrimp, much harder and quite difficult to break with the fingers. So maybe they really were baby lobsters. But I doubt it. Probably some Asian variety of shrimp with extra hard shells.