Saturday, August 6, 2011

Slaying the Dragon

The girls and our realtor, Doris,  during our first meal.
This week I faced another fear of mine...successfully cooking for my family in China.  I had been "warned" by several of the wives that, in the beginning, it is hard to cook in China.  You're disoriented, don't know where to buy things (and have to visit several stores to get everything you need), all of your pots & pans haven't arrived yet, there are extra steps to wash and sanitize cooking utensils and fresh fruits & veggies and the oven is measured in Celsius and not Fahrenheit.

You also have to decide how much you're willing to spend on the things that are familiar to you...are you willing to buy a $10 box of cereal or a $5 can of Rotel tomatoes?  For this Aldi- shopping girl, it's tough to spend that much on food (I spent $1.00 on a can of tomato paste that I know I could get for $0.10 at Aldi, oh well).

It's also a challenge because when you get back to the apartment you have to haul everything to the elevator and then drag it into the apartment, no pulling into the garage by the kitchen door.   I used to bring in the cool stuff first when I got to the house and then wait until the kids were napping to carry in the non-perishables.

Before we left for China I started brainstorming meal ideas based on things that I knew I could find easily in Suzhou and even enlisted some of my friends for ideas.  This past week I made it to Auchan (the large grocery store), Papo Franco (the bread shop), and Summit (an import store with all things American & European).

Wednesday, Jamie had a business dinner and the girls and I were camped out at the apartment (but not moved in yet) waiting for the sofa bed to be carried up 27 flights of stairs.  It was time to slay the dragon and cook for the girls.  We had a fine feast of OJ, Bisquick pancakes (I stashed a big box in our checked luggage) and bacon.  The crowd went wild and the apartment smelled like heaven (bacon).

I did a bit better on Thursday night.  Jamie walked in the door and said, please let dinner be anything but Chinese.  Jamie has Chinese every day at two very large meals out, so he was ready for a change.  I'm happy to report that our BBQ baked chicken, au gratin potatoes, steamed green beans, and iced tea (un-sweet of course, we're Northerners you know) was fantastic.

And...if for some reason the cooking gig doesn't work out, we found out this week that during August the kids eat free on Monday nights at the Mexican restaurant, Tuesday nights is buy 1 get 1 free on large pizzas at Melrose's pizza (and they will deliver to the pool at the apartment complex across the street), and last but not least....there is always Sherpa's.  Sherpa's is a magnificent service.  Log on (or call), choose a Suzhou restaurant, order, and in 45-60 minutes a "Sherpa man" as we call him, will deliver for 10 RMB (less than $2).  You can see "Sherpa men" buzzing around town on their E-bikes (electric bikes) in their orange & black uniforms and bike helmets (no one else in China wears a helmet).  LBean has picked up on the symbol.  We ate lunch at a restaurant with friends yesterday and she looked up and pointed to the sticker on the window and said, "It's Sherpa!".   It's always nice to know there's a back up plan!

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