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On Duck Parts, Football, and Belonging

Fresh off of watching a 44-minute highlights video from Stanford's 2012-2013 football season, which in my opinion is 43-minutes too many dedicated to anything sports-related with the notable exception of Tarheels basketball in the championship game... I can just say that I've never felt so American than after getting so many darn goosebumps after merely watching a few boys compete in mercilessly tackling each other for a teeny tiny ball.

As much as I sometimes pretend like I don't love sports (see the first half of the above statement), I admit that I'm giddier about the fact that Stanford's ranked #2 in Sport's Illustrated's preseason preview and #4 in the USA Today something-or-other football poll, than I am about having finally found the perfect, black maxi-skirt after months of searching. And if you know me, that was certainly a big deal.

The Chinese Normal, #1: eating animal parts freely || more ethical {using all parts of an animal,
rather than being wasteful and throwing most of it away}, flavorful, and nutritious in the Chinese opinion

I was kind of stunned by a few moments of clarity today as I sat in the corner of our little place in Nanjing, Googling every statistic I could about our upcoming football season stats, when just yesterday I sat in the basement level of a new mall in town, feasting on vermicelli soup with ... duck parts. Duck parts, like, duck tongue, duck stomach, duck neck, and cubes of duck blood. {Tastes like tofu.} And this was so normal to all the people surrounding me, so much more normal than the concept that thousands of miles away, people are giving even two hoots about a college football team.

In that instant, I felt so far away from home. Home, with cars in which to drive to the next block, with social media that's available without a pricey VPN, with a hearty bowl of mac and cheese, and with avocados that aren't only found at an import store for 68RMB (a little more than 10 dollars). But sometimes when I'm over there in the good old USA, I crave a certain familiarity, as well - of walking in a sea of a hundred other people that resemble me so, of lively family-style dinners with the rotating glass disk in the middle of the table, of not needing to calculate how much to give in tips to the taxi driver and the waiter, of knowing the exact bus routes to get home or to my aunt's house, or to my favorite dessert place. I've often asked myself, where is home to me? And the obvious, cheesy answer would be "where the heart is." But my heart is in many places, and so here's what I've come up with.

The Chinese Normal, #2: delivery bikes for food from almost any Western-imported restaurant,
especially fast food such as Pizza Hut, McDonald's, KFC, etc. & you don't give a tip to the delivery boy

The Chinese Normal, #3: having raw meat on the table, all up close and personal
{exclusive to cook-it-yourself cuisines such as hotpot, Korean bbq, etc.}

The USA is home to me. I belong there, fit in there, and know how society works over there - something that is so important after spending so much time frustratedly trying to figure out how society works over here. But, China. Oh, China. Or maybe, I should say, Nanjing, to be more specific - It'll never be home to me, exactly, but I'll never think of myself as just a tourist or a visitor here. It's a place of history for me, for sure, but even more than that - it's a place that offers me comfort and reprieve when I need it the most, and a place that's just as familiar to me as it is foreign. 

The Chinese Normal, #4: {this one I'm loving} no minimum drinking age.
OK fine, it's actually 18, but only by a law introduced in 2006, that no one, not even the popo, takes seriously.
Like someone joked at dinner last night, "the minimum drinking age in China is (less than) 18 years old."

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you have the merriest of weekends. On another note, I'm feeling the itch to revamp the looks and goals of this blog, so don't be surprised if you notice some changes sooner or later 'round these parts!

10 comments

  1. Girl you got this all right!

    And I love the way you write.

    xo Lisa
    Making Life's Lemons

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  2. You always go to the most fun restaurants! Now I'm craving Chinese food!

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  3. This looks so good, I adore Chinese food. Feeling hungry now, I'm off to get a snack!!

    Caroline x
    Cocktails and Caroline

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  4. This post made me very hungry! All the food looks delicious.
    xoxo

    www.cakeandcouture.com

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  5. It's funny the things that often make us home sick..
    though I don't think it'll ever be football.

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  6. Yummm that looks amazing. I love how you write as well!

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  7. your photos made me miss asia! i love a good hotpot!


    Isabel @ Walk of Fashion

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  8. i'm loving your China foodie pics! omgosh that shabu shabu looks INSANE! all that glorious pork and beef!! drooling!!

    yes it is a cruise! it was amazing! you should definitely go on a european cruise it's a really awesome experience you get to see so many places in a short amount of time!

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  9. Amazing pictures. Actually i have been to nanjing of China once. It is an amazing place.

    jeffrey campbell lita

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your comments truly make my day! :)
thank you!

xx Caroline