When I visited Shanghailast March, I decided I would also visit the nearby city Suzhou for a day. With its characteristic canals and its stunning surroundings, Suzhou is known as “the Venice of Asia”, but one should realize that this city is growing very fast and there are already 10 million people living there. So it’s by no means a small town and it’s mostly the old part of town where you can find the romantic scenery.
Because that day was a national holiday – aka the worst time to travel to these kinds of places – we decided to skip the tourist spots, like the beautiful pagodas and gardens, but just take a walk next to one of the canals. Even though the weather sucked, it was still very clear that Suzhou is a beautiful and special city.
I used to be such a picky eater, there used to be a loooong list of ingredients I refused to eat. Even when my interest in food and cooking grew and the list gradually got shorter, the thought of eating certain ingredients or dishes was simply horrifying. Bananas, mushrooms, everything that sounded really exotic or was just simply new to me, I would not eat.
Then I moved to Beijing and I had to step out of every comfort zone that I had. New friends, different language, different culture, different food and no kitchen. Some things were easier to adjust to than others: food was one of the easier ones, living without a kitchen was definitely not.
When I went back to the Netherlands last summer I couldn’t wait to try out all the new recipes I had been wanting to make for over a year, and inspired by all these new experiences I found my way back into the kitchen. One day I suddenly realized I had made pasta with mushrooms for dinner with this banana-date cake for dessert. I had finally conquered all of my silly food quirks. I now firmly believe that mushrooms are awesome, bananas are my favorite fruit snack and I will never let a chance go by to try out new flavors and ingredients.
I started a new teaching job a couple of weeks ago. There’s a lot to say about the Chinese education system and the way students are being educated. The combination of its education system and the one child policy does not really make for an ideal situation.. surprise. The way these kids are growing up is so much different from the way I grew up. It is not uncommon for a kid in primary school to have extra English classes at night after having a normal 7.30 am to 7 pm school day. I had half the amount of classes and I didn’t even have any homework at that time.
Even though I’m neither a fan of the education system nor of many of the teaching methods, I am a big fan of the kids. They are so sweet, playful, smart and they are studying so hard. Too bad my already crappy immune system can’t handle full days of 4-10 year olds coughing and sneezing in my face. So along with the new job I also got a nonstop cold.
If I’m really going to pursue this teaching career I should probably build up my immune system a bit better and a vitamin overdose should help me with that. Preferably something with exotic flavors that makes me think I’m in a warm, sunny place, instead of freezing, smoggy Beijing.