Admitting defeat on local flavor

Our stay in Hong Kong and Taipei has been wonderful (We didn’t end up going to mainland China, because the jittery authorities there denied one of our party a visa);  my attempts to absorb the local flavor including the cuisine, however, met an abrupt and decisive defeat. 

On the final day of the stay we were treated to lavish meals including pigeon, fungus, sea cucumber, soup with the innards of some unspecified creature, duck feet (they might actually have been goose feet, they were so large), plus a dessert of curdled whey with mango chunks, which looked like something an orangutan might have yarped up. I tried to sample everything to avoid insulting my hosts. Three hours later, I was doing my own share of yarping back in the hotel bathroom.  By the time this post is published I’ll be in the air on the way back to Los Angeles– if I make it past the airport health monitors in Hong Kong, that is. In Asia they come at you wearing masks and waving handheld thermometers as you walk past cameras that show you in infrared.  I’m afraid they might mistake me and my husband, who is also sick, for a pair of Patient Zeroes. If we do get quarantined, at least it’ll be fodder for a story.

Either way I’ll be out of pocket on tuesday, so I’ll leave you with a question–what’s your favorite medical malady thriller of all time? Mine have got to be COMA and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN. I’ll never forget that image of the human bodies suspended from wires. 

See you all stateside!

10 thoughts on “Admitting defeat on local flavor

  1. I recently watched CONTAGION with Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne. The scariest thing about this medical thriller is that it could easily happen tomorrow. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend.

  2. That curdy stuff sounds like stinky (massive understatement) tofu.
    I won’t let people bring that anywhere near me. I hope your flight was kind of empty and well stocked with ginger ale.

  3. What an exciting trip! I always thought that “Jellied Duck’s Web” was some sort of knock off joke about Asian cooking. Thanks for clearing that up for me!

  4. The original COMA was better than the latest one I saw on TV. Couldn’t even finish it. Hope you’re feeling better soon, little Miss Ambassador.

  5. Oh, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN for sure. I was a kid and grabbed it off my mom’s bookshelf…It blew me away–I couldn’t believe someone had concocted a story like that!–and started me on a lifelong morbid fascination with all things deadly and gross. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I feel for your illness. Years ago I used to work with SE Asian refugees. I was regularly invited into their homes and offered food. Looking at what was sitting out – often for several hours – I was never so glad to be a vegetarian in my life.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall for a pitch session where the pitcher states they have a great idea for a “medical malady thriller”. That is a great phrase.

    I’m going to pick a piece of non fiction: The Hot Zone. That really brings home just how easily an epidemic of something truly deadly could occur and spread at anytime.

  7. I hate to have a big laugh at someone else’s expense, but . . . Thanks for that one. Don’t you know, we have the best Chinese food in the world right here at home! There’s this one place in Bishop that’s amazing!

  8. I feel for you Kathryn. My wife is Korean and they have some similar foods, not nearly as ‘wild’ as SE Asian foods in my opinion though.

    A large part of what I’ve grown accustomed to includes fermented beans, fermented cabbage, and lots of raw fish and crab coated in said fermented beans. My wife made a jar of “Daenjjang” (fermented bean paste) that took 5 years to rot…I mean ferment…like a fine wine. Still looks like baby poo and smells same.

    Medical Malady Thriller Movie? Uh….Young Doctors in Love?

  9. Brings back sweet memories of my time traveling to China. I had the pleasure of going back and forth just before and after the SARs epidemic. We used to take about 800 mg of ibuprofen to bring down the slightest bit of fever before walking through the infrared scanners at the airport. Actually, my thriller, A Reason For Dying is about a natural viral outbreak that is mistaken for bioterrorism.

    I’ve eaten plenty of those meals and almost always held it together. Being on business there, we could not afford to insult our hosts. Just be glad you didn’t have to Gan Bei. (Means “Dry Glass” in Mandarin. Or Bottoms up)

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