To my utter delight, spring has come to Nanjing! Gone are the grey, frigid days of winter! Now, it stays light later each day and the cherry and plum trees all over town are blooming. It is wonderful.
Today, I went to a local lake with a friend to see the blooms. Because it was a Sunday, and a sunny Sunday at that, the crowds were formidable. There is an idiom which I recently learned, 人山人海 (“so many people they make-up a mountain or a sea”) that applied perfectly. But because the weather was so lovely, I didn’t mind.
Along with the blossoms, I have also been enjoying a new snack lately, 抓饼 (“grab pancake”). It is a snack whipped up in a few moments on a griddle and meant to be eaten quickly. Chinese pancakes are usually savory. I order an egg, fried, with vegetables and hot peppers. So, so delicious! Aware that my time in China is dwindling, I stop for them often.
I also recently traveled to Taipei (more on that in another post) and there I tried a fantastic scallion pancake (葱油饼). Fried at a hot temperature on a griddle, you again have the option to top with eggs, meats, vegetables and/or hot sauce. I had one with black peppers that was to die for.
Beyond the pancakes and the plum flowers, I would like to draw attention to another one of my favorite things, massages. A traditional Chinese massage is called 推拿 (tuīná). Often administered by a highly trained blind masseuse, it is not the typical spa experience you might expect in the US. The massages are administered while you are fully clothed, and you often share a room with other strangers. It is deeply painful, as the masseuse presses on you, literally digs their elbow into tight spots, forcibly cracks your back. At times you have to take deep breaths and remind yourself that eventually, this will end. However, afterwards, you feel incredible! Everything feels aligned and your posture improves. The massages also tend to be very affordable, 60 rmb for 60 minutes. I go as often as possible. I think of it as language practice as I attempt to describe parts of the body in Chinese!