Monday, September 16, 2013

A Fig Lesson

Day 20

David had his first day of teaching here at Shandong University today.  He started at 8 a.m. and except for three short 10 minute breaks, he was teaching the whole time until Noon.  He felt it went well.   The classes are 2 hours long, so the first class went from 8 to 10 and the second was from 10 to 12 noon.   I came at the start of each class while he was doing his introduction of himself, and then I went out to do some errands.  He took his guitar and found a few minutes at the end of each class to sing a song.  He wanted them to sing with him, but the students were rather shy about singing along.  Not sure how many of them really knew the words or the tune to John Denver’s, “Country Roads.” 

We ate lunch at the canteen with David's co-teacher, Danny, and had a hard time finding a place to sit.  A student spoke enough English to say that we could sit at his table with him.  He actually had pretty good skills in speaking English as we talked to him more.  He is from Kazakhstan and is studying to go into public relations.  We had an interesting visit with him.  

I needed to get some fruits and vegetables today, so I went to a couple of the street vendors and bought some stuff.  I passed by one vendor that had these small green bulb-like plants that he was selling.  I did not know what they were and since I don’t know Chinese for, “What is it?” and he didn’t know the English for, “It is a _______,” I wasn’t sure what to do, but I came here to try new things and not be afraid.  I figured if the Chinese were eating it, there might be some value to it.  (Although, they do eat the bean of the ginko tree and I’m told it’s rather bitter, so I won’t be trying that.)  

I bought 6 of them.  The vendor put 10 in a bag and because of my apprehension; I put 4 of them back.  Some were softer than others.  I brought them home and just before dinner, I decided to peal one and cut it open.  I chose one that was a little firmer than the others.  This is what it looked like:

I was not sure whether it was edible or not, but my all-knowing husband looked at it and said, “I think it is a fig!”  Okay, so that I don’t look too dumb here, I have never, ever, ever in my life seen a fig outside of a newton!  So who is the first one to try it?  Not David!  Yes, I tasted it.  I wasn’t too impressed at first, so I came to the trusty computer and Googled, “figs.”  It said that the mushier ones were the riper ones and unless they were oozing stuff or were moldy, they would be the better tasting ones.  So, I got the mushiest one I had, made sure it was not moldy or oozing stuff, cut it open, and tried it.  Yes, I liked the flavor of that one better.  So that was my lesson on figs for the day. 

We went for a walk after dinner and stopped at a vendor that was on campus.  They have pomegranates here that are not the nice red color that we see back in the States, but more of an orange-yellow color.  I wasn’t sure how to pick a ripe one of these either, but I did my best, trying to remember what I had read a long time ago, and we will open that one up tomorrow.  

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