Random edible treats discovered in alleys or parks or street corners. I'm really, really going to miss that, being the huge foodie that I am. I know where to find fried cicadas, plates of authentic steamed wontons, how to ask for the fried version with rice vinegar (super-yum!), kebabs of lamb that usually aren't cat meat, the best Chinese beer…And still I find surprises everytime I go outside for a seemingly mundane reason. Like yesterday: I went for a jog by the lake and got into my groove…(random update: jogging regularly now as opposed to whenever I feel like it and continually surprising myself with my endurance) And I came up to where the path arcs close to the bus station. I could see from afar that all sorts of Chinese folks were hanging out by the lake, waiting on their buses to arrive and so there were all kinda of mobile stalls set up with various goodies. But what caught me by surprise was the old Uighur man saying hello to me. I waved hi and kept running for a bit, and then slowed down as I saw what they were selling.
They had these massive pressed nut logs shaped into mosque-like buildings. Each of them was around 4×4 feet and decorated with sliced apricots, some sort of frosting or cream, raisins and nuts. They were beautiful and every merchant had their own. I decided I'd give one a try and went over to the handsomest merchant to buy one (kinda have a thing for Turkic dudes). His accent (and presumably mine) was pretty heavy though and I had a lot of trouble with his Chinese and he kept slipping back into Uighur as he'd talk to his friends over his shoulder.
"This costs…Holy shit a black dude…per kilo."
"Wait, what? That part was kind of impor…You know what, nevermind. Just give me a slice *this* big."
So he cuts it, weighs it, and asks for Y100. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't even have that much on me; I only have Y50. I thought you said Y26! No, I said 26 jeen (1/2 kilo). It's Y5 per jeen! (I actually had to work that out later because I still didn't understand him). So we argued for a bit and he wouldn't slice it in half and give me half so I said "if you don't want my money give it back." And he grumbled some more and then gave me half of the cake slice. Oh well; maybe once day I'll learn to read Chinese. Random adventures; I'm eating it now, too! At first I thought it was a waste as even Y50 is a bit much for a street snack but it's so rich and heavy I have to nibble at it. It's made of crushed millet, peanuts and walnuts, mixed with raisins, honey and possibly date syrup. Also there are these random green fruits that have an aromatic bite to them! I only got a single sliced apricot though; the man gave me the less pretty half =.= I spoke with a couple other Uighur fellows and they gave me the name but I can't remember how to say it. Xinjiang Peanut-brittle, I've decided to call it.
I'm going to try and go back and apologize to that dude, buy some more and try and get a picture of this Xinjiang Peanut-Brittle for all to see. I'll apologize only because those guys take 3 day trains across China to head east and sell their goods to raise money for their families and return home to their occupied lands. No one might buy a pre-cut slice of peanut-brittle, so he might have lost Y50. And he was handsome. Did I mention that?
*noms more Xinjiang Peanut Brittle*