Luosi Fen: Not as much "fen" as you'd think
Trip Start Aug 29, 2012
19Trip End Ongoing
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What I did
M50 Art District
Mistake #1: Not Eating Raw Fish from a Street Vendor
Friday night, Tina and I walked over to the street market in front of Huxi Mosque. We'd read about the legendary street food and were sure that it was going to be a delicious, satisfying feast! When we got there, there was a single stall open with gutted fish lying out on the table. I thought back to my expert googling of the street market and realized that all the pictures of the market had been taken in the daytime. Oops! I guess we missed it. I thought avoiding raw fish that had been sitting out on the street all day was a good culinary decision that night. How could I have been so wrong?
Mistake #2: Not Eating at KFC
We walked back by the subway station and looked around for food. We stopped in front of KFC (which, incidentally, is way better in China than in the US). And then it happened: the moment I look back on with shame and regret. Tina said, "I know a place where we could eat. My coworker took me there once. I think we can walk there from here." We could've given up. We could've stepped into the magical world of Chinese KFC and saved the next 48 hours of our lives. Well, hindsight's 20/20, right?
Tina got out her smartphone and didn't really seem to know where this place was. I joked that I knew we'd just end up at KFC at the end of the night. If only! I really thought that having my Friday night meal at KFC was the worst case scenario at that point. What the hell did I know?!
Mistake #3: 柳州螺蛳粉 (Liǔzhōu luósī fěn)...Not as much "fen" as you'd think
Before Friday, I was an avid believer in grasping every opportunity for adventure. This is what led me to eat things like scorpions and silk worms (which, incidentally, I would now be happy to eat every day for the rest of my life as long as I never have to eat luosi fen ever again). It led me to get lost with Joel and Ian on a mountain in Dali and to take them to Tiger Leaping Gorge right after a flood (sorry, Dad!). My yearning for adventure is what drove me to white water raft with David in Thailand and to slide down mossy boulders with Dea and Brianna in Maine. When I was invited on a trip, I went. When food was offered to me, I happily accepted it. Those days are now over.
The first clue that I should have bolted back to KFC was when Tina said, "This place is famous! Look how many people wrote comments!" *points to hundreds of curled post-its on greasy wall*
The restaurant is actually famous for snail noodles (luósī fěn) from a town called Liuzhou. Thinking we were making yet another genius culinary choice, we ordered beef noodles instead. Since I didn't understand what these strange "beverages" listed on the menu were, Tina ordered my "drink" for me.
The noodles (and the restaurant) smelled exactly like stinky tofu. Another life lesson from this experience: the phrase "I know it smells like feet, but it tastes good!" should never be followed by you trying the dish.
The "beverage" (see picture), looked like jello in milk tea. "This tastes a little funky", I thought, "but it least it's diluting the taste of stinky tofu in my mouth". After I tried it, Tina flashed a mischievous smile my way and proceeded to inform me that it was made of turtle shells.
Laughing hysterically between cautious bites of what can barely be considered food, we finished our "meals".
I only had one question for Tina before we parted ways: "Tina, where's Liuzhou?"
"I don't know. Why?"
"Because I never want to go there." (For those of you who are curious, Liuzhou is here, only about 100 miles from Guilin).
Epilogue: What's a China blog without a bathroom story?
Needless to say, after visiting Liuzhou Luosi Fen, I was not, ahem, feeling very well. I think I would've felt extremely lonely being sick by myself for the first time since I moved to Shanghai. Luckily, I made a new friend. In the bathroom. His name is Diablo the Bug, and he thinks he's hilarious.
I decided I'd just never use the bathroom ever again. Unable to go through with this plan for obvious reasons, a few minutes later I returned to the bathroom. I threw a wide array of bathroom products at Diablo and he didn't budge. Thinking he was dead, I held my breath (don't ask me why) and mustered the courage to move the toilet paper roll.
Diablo can fly! The little bugger (haha) flew right onto my towel as I screamed in shock. Then, he chilled there for the rest of the day. At that point, I decided I'd just never take a shower again.
This morning, Diablo was nowhere to be found. I know he's out there somewhere, lurking inconveniently on a bathroom product that one day soon I will need desperately. Thanks for keeping it interesting, Diablo.
Since the last blog, I found a Lanzhou lamian restaurant close to my work!
I also helped film an in-home interview and sat on the business side of a one-way mirror during a focus group. Tip: never check your appearance in a one-way mirror. You will be picking your nose right in front of someone's face.