Last year, I meant to fake travel to China in honor of the Lunar new year, but I completely forgot that plan and fake travelled to India instead. This year, I was determined not to forgetâ€”and I didn’t! I missed out on my library system’s dragon dance performance this year, due to room/space limits, but I hope to see it next year in person when it’s safer to do so.
My fake trip to China also corresponded with the opening of the Winter Olympics, held in Beijing. In the end, it was fortunate timing, better than if I’d planned it. After the years I’ve had, I could really use some good fortune!
Meals: My favorite local Chinese restaurant went out of business a few years ago, but during the pandemic, I discovered another nearby that I like because it has a “Chinese Vegetarian” section of the menu. I ordered vegetarian egg rolls and vegetarian orange chicken without the spice (I’m a total wimp when it comes to spicy foods). As always, it was delicious and enough food for two wonderful meals. I ate the first dinner while watching the movie I chose this month.
Along the same lines, I sat down with the movie’s sequel and Sweet Earth’s General Tso’s Tofu. It’s a little more spicy than I would like, but not too much for me to handle balanced with the rice.
Thanks to my search for a slightly more authentic dessert, I also tried a new-to-me restaurant not far from my house and had their veggie rolls and sweet and sour tofu. It was excellent and one of my new favorites for sure. There were choices of small, medium, and large sizes and the small was even enough for me to split into two meals. I look forward to another visit there and perhaps making a regular stop there on my way home from work.
Dessert: Unsurprisingly, fortune cookies came with my meals. They had actual fortunes instead of proverbs or wisdom. which I was glad to see. Mine read “You will find what you have lost once you stop looking for it” and “Your present plans are going to succeed if you stick to them.” Though the inventor of fortune cookies is uncertain and intensely debated, most sources agree that they did not originate in China.
I shopped around for Chinese restaurants near me with actual desserts, and was surprised at how few there were. I finally discovered one not too far from me that had pineapple rangoon. I got a half order of them (quantity: 3) and absolutely loved them. They were pineapple and cream cheese filled wontons, fried golden and topped with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar. Decadent and delicious! What’s not to like?
Music:Â For music, I’m counting the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Despite the state propaganda, there was plenty of music and dancing to celebrate their history and culture. My favorite moment was watching all the little Chinese children enjoying winter sports, especially skating on the ice for the first time.
Movies:Â I have been wanting to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon since it came out and there were rave reviews about the fighting scenes and new cinematic techniques (and wires) used to achieve them. I figured that the Year of the Tiger was a good excuse to finally watch it. It took me a while to track down a copy, but it was well worth the effort. I loved the movie, even though some of the action scenes went on a tad too long for my liking. The central themes of duty, honor, loyalty, and respect were ones I could admire. But having two love stories at the heart of the movie elevated it even further. The ending caught me by surprise, and I stupidly had to Google it to read others’ explanations.
Book:Â A good friend and fellow BookCrosser recommendedÂ Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, and I was proud I managed to remember it as well. The book was shorter than I’d expected, and I really would have liked to have spent more time with the main characters. The situation with reeducating children and banning western literature put me on edge, but the love some of the characters had for stories (be they retold movies or classic books) was wonderful to see. I love when characters have as much passion for books as I do, or more (I likely wouldn’t break into someone’s house to find some, because I’m not as brave as the characters in this book). However, similar to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I was surprised and a bit saddened by the ending.