August 12th marked our 1 year anniversary living in China. It went so fast and so slow, all at the same time. Brett and I have learned and grown so much this past year, but I’m daily reminded that I still have so much yet to learn about Chinese culture.
Oh, and learning Mandarine will probably be an never-ending learning process as well.
So, to celebrate and commemorate our first year in China, I thought I’d share with you a list of “10 things we shouldn’t be getting use to, but somehow are” which Brett actually wrote for some friends of ours!
1. Dead Things
Whether it’s the man skinning snakes outside of our apartment complex, whole animals hanging on meat hooks on the sidewalk, or chicken blood in our elevator (we’ll just assume it’s a chicken’s blood) dead things and blood are becoming less and less shocking.
2. No Rules on the Road (Brett really loves this one!)
Want to turn left at a red light? Easy. Just turn left into the oncoming traffic of the road that you want to turn onto then just make your way to the other side.
Want to go straight at a red light? No problem! Just look both ways first.
Find some room in the middle of the road between the two directions of traffic? Go for it! Other cars will make way.
OK. To be honest there are a few rules that we’ve learned.
- ALWAYS pay attention.
- Green means yellow. Often pedestrians and right turning traffic both have green lights to cross paths!
- You are responsible for whatever is in front of you, but never behind you. This means you can shift “lanes” without looking and pull out in front of people and they have to stop.
- The bigger vehicle always wins.
Anytime is great time to light off fireworks! Wedding? Business opening? Anniversary party? 4:50am? Why not!
4. Feeling Dumb
As our language level improves, we’re receiving fewer and fewer incredulous looks that we can’t understand the “simple” things people are saying, but they haven’t gone away. Especially from people that speak the local dialect. And, no, sorry, it doesn’t help us when you draw the Chinese character that you’re trying to say in the air with your finger. We can’t read yet either!
5. Feeling Like A Celebrity Or Just Drop Dead Gorgeous
Have you ever wanted to completely capture someone’s attention just by walking down the street? Or have people alert their friends because you’re about to walk by? Or watch teenage boys and girls work up the courage to say hi to you, then run away embarrassed? This is your place.
Combining these last two, I guess we often feel like dumb, gorgeous celebrities =)
Power and water outages don’t occur that often here, but we had a 5 day water outage a little while back. We’ve heard that these are usually planned outages, but not necessarily communicated planned outages. Or, it could have been communicated, we just couldn’t read the sign.
7. People Spitting, Peeing and Pooping Anywhere
Men and women hocking loogies is like hearing the birds chirp. Not in pleasantness, but in frequency. Diapers either never really caught on here or they’re just too expensive and neither did public toilets. The result? Public streets and public squares become public toilets for kids.
8. 10+ Hour Bus Rides
Long distance buses are a rarity in the States, but are often the only option between two remote towns on the plateau. We’ve gotten used to passing the time by practicing our Chinese, trying to have a conversation or just admiring the scenery.
9. Chinglish + Signs
Chinglish is Chinese English. It’s everywhere. Some of it is hilarious and most of it doesn’t make sense. Like the back of a sweatshirt saying, “Demi Moore And Other Icicles” or “Maimed man toilet” for handicapped toilet.
Another great thing to see are some of the signs, like the proper way to use a Western toilet for people used to squattys…
10. Chinese Exercise Methods
Whether morning or evening, when you walk around town you’ll see people punching their legs, punching their arms, punching their chest to warm up their muscles or get more blood flow to them.
In the early morning you also might hear some people warming up their vocal chords by shouting.
The crazy thing is that these 10 things are just the tip of the ice burg. China is so multifaceted and I know we’ll be experiencing and learning so much more in the near future and for the rest of our time living in China.
I also hope that I’ll continue to improve my cooking/baking skills while living here, even with all the inconveniences. I’m slowly figuring out the cheapest places to buy certain products and also how to get access to whole food items that I love, either on line or somewhere in our city.
I actually recently found a vendor who sells natural tahini and black tahini and I practically squealed when I found her! I kept asking over and over again, “So you don’t add oil or other ingredients?” Nope. Just straight up sesame seeds.
I’ve come to love tahini more and more and I find that I works, not only in savory dishes, but also in sweet treats, which is where these Double Chocolate Black Tahini Banana Muffins come in. I recently posted one of my favorite recipes for Black Sesame Tahini Banana Bread and I knew that I eventually wanted to make a similar chocolate bread using my black tahini.
I couldn’t be happier with how these Double Chocolate Black Tahini Banana Muffins turned out. They’re made with whole grains and sweetened with ripe bananas and coconut sugar, but they taste like a special treat. The mini chocolate chips really bring out the rich chocolate flavor and allow these muffins to not only be a healthy snack, but a fun dessert.
Please let me know if you give these Double Chocolate Black Tahini Banana Muffins a try! Leave a comment below or take a picture and tag #theconscientiouseater on Instagram so I can see your creation!
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease or line 12 muffin cups with cooking spay or silicone muffin liners. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed and 6 tablespoons water to create your flax eggs. Set aside to thicken.
- In a large bowl mash the ripe bananas until smooth.
- Add in the black tahini, oil and coconut sugar and whisk until smooth.
- Add in the thickened flax eggs and mix again until all the wet ingredients are incorporated.
- Evenly shake the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the top of the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into your prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool before serving or storing in an airtight container.