Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cradle of Talents and Ambitions

Cradle of Talents and Ambitions

Like a rat in a rice jar
I dwelt among pomegranate and plum blossoms
where nights were shiny and moony
the days melted clouds steeped in tea fragrance

Boldly I crept over the tiger’s tomb
wrapped in embroidered silk
patterns repeating bat and crane
bat and crane
feasting on jasmine, lychee, rose

In the garden home I caressed
dragons of jade cool to the touch
harbored in the dark recesses
of inner rooms, inner courts
listening to the high, yearning pitch of a woman
and the pluck of her fingers on instrument string

Now the stars have all fallen
there is no comfort here
only regrets, remembrances
and I am left
a hungry ghost

- Peggy

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fried Pies

Does anybody remember when McDonald’s used to fry their pies? You must be of a certain age to appreciate this, but McDonald’s pies used to be a glorious crispy, crunchy, golden, flakey pastry, filled with either apple or cherry and THEY WERE GOOOOOD. I understand that McDonald’s was doing its part to be a good corporate citizen when it started baking its pies, but they did away with something special. The baked pies just don’t have that same satisfying texture that can only be achieved through prolonged exposure to hot oil. I didn’t know that I even missed those fried pies of long ago until I happened upon them in China. Our tour guide in Beijing, Michael, had been rhapsodizing about the McDonald’s pies, but he never said they were fried. Instead what got my attention were the flavors he said they sold – pineapple, taro, and sweet potato. Naturally I had to try this exotic twist on an old standard so I made it a priority to get myself to a McDonald’s, which was not hard to do in Beijing. While not as ubiquitous as KFC, there are still a lot of McDonald’s stores in China.  

One day when I’d had enough of the haggling markets in Beijing I found a McDonald’s conveniently located next door and quietly slipped away. Chinese McDonald’s make ordering so easy, even for foreigners. I didn’t have to say a thing, just pointed to one of the handy laminated menus and my pies were bagged and ready to go. Yes, I said pies, plural. Just like in America, it’s more economical in China to buy two pies instead of one. Ahem. At any rate I didn’t eat them both in the same sitting…

I’m telling you I had a Proustian moment when I bit into that first pie. To my astonishment it was fried! I hadn’t thought of fried pies since I worked the night shift at McDonald’s when I was sixteen and seventeen. Meal discounts, cleaning the shake machine, coming home at midnight with lettuce stuck to my deck shoe, and oh, those pies.

Sigh. The pineapple pie was quite tasty. Unfortunately the taro didn’t fry up so well. The filling was gloopy and purple and the texture turned me off. I did not get a crack at the sweet potato variety, but the pineapple was definitely a winner. If the blog hasn’t made you want to go to China yet, then believe me, the McDonald’s fried pineapple pies alone are worth the trip.
- Peggy