It may only be a small section of famous San Francisco, but it may also be the smelliest. As we ventured deeper into the depths of the over decorated China Town, the smell of rotting/dried out/fresh fish attacked our nostrils. Yum! Your nosedoes not experience sensations like that when you’re living in the rolling hills of Moraga. It was new and exciting! How glorious! Not.
And so we begin the tour, directed by the enthusiastic Fred… or so we thought. The first 20 minutes of the so called walk-about tour was spent standing in the freezing cold as Fred lectured on how China Town came into existence, oh and how is daughter went to business school in Boston, but business was not for her, she wanted to be a nurse! And she was moving home with Fred, because she found a fabulous job. Fred should be proud.
As Fred lead us around, on what seemed to be a completely random path, I suddenly noticed one of the sources of that foul smell. There was a group of fish hanging from a window of one of the apartments; Fred says it’s for a stew. I on the other hand, believe it’s to ward off evil spirits.
We then ended up in what seemed to be the most congested part of SF, the Chinese market. I personally found this part of the tour to be the most interesting. Growing up in a very typical “all American” home, my kind of grocery shopping involves driving to the nearest Safeway (or nearest equivalent) and filling up my shopping cart full of food that will most likely never expire due to all the preservatives. Often the meat I buy is either packaged in plastic and in the refrigerated section, or in the frozen section. That’s my idea of fresh. Upon entering the Chinese version of the meat section, it became obvious that my idea of fresh meat was slightly off. This market was full of nothing but live animals. The catfish were flapping around on a tray as if trying to escape their impending doom. There was a bin of giant frogs staring at me with their bulbous eyes (can they really be edible?) Along with the frogs and catfish, there were millions of other kinds of sea creatures, chickens, geese, and some funny looking fluffy birds. If I was to buy the Chinese version of fresh meat, I would probably have a heart attack, killing animals is not my cup of tea.
Speaking of tea, because we are all really fast walkers due to the rain, we got to enjoy a nice tea tasting in a local shop. We entered the serene atmosphere and learned how you are really supposed to drink and make tea. A red headed tea enthusiast, was very informative and really made me want tea, and to learn some more. This was a pretty weird sensation for me, I enjoyed it non-the less.
The tour concluded with a traditional Chinese lunch. Now I love Chinese food so this was sure to be the best part of the tour, and when the meal began with fresh vegetarian spring rolls, I knew I was right. A golden brown roll of fried good-ness. I layered on the spicy yellow mustard and sweet and sour sauce and took my first bite. Damn it was hot! As in, steamy hot, but delicious nonetheless. The rest of the meal was equally satisfying, except for one dish, that I swear I will NEVER eat again. The lovely bean curd. My personal rule is to try anything once, so I began to cut the gooey brown burrito. I could not for the life of me cut this thing so in an act of frustration I ripped off a piece with my bare hands. I tossed the morsel in my mouth and immediately regretted it. Soggy, mushy, sweet, yet plant like, sounds appealing yes?
The tour was a pretty good success although its now seven hours later and my mouth is still fully coated in oil. I have no idea how to fix it and it’s pretty unappetizing, I think I will stick to the slightly Americanized Chinese food for now. Thanks Fred!
Pigeon for Lunch?