Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remembering My "Heated Seat"

I didn't really realize what a huge role spicy/hot sauce played in my life this past year in China.

Until now.

and it's not as if I've been home a year and I'm super-late on this realization .... but it definitely just came to me in an "Ahhhh-Ha!" kind of way today.

Food is big in China, as I've mentioned before. ( especially staples regarding where you live/where you are from - Northern China- noodles/dumplings, Southern China- rice)

Since "self expression" can be kind of limited under a Communist regime, food is the one area where creativity can fully flourish!

When I arrived in Beijing last April, one night after our training, after my jet lag had worn off, me and Metis and Dailly, and Robert went out to eat at a Sichuan restaurant. I definitely remember ordering "Gong bao ji ding" - Kung Pao Chicken.

The Sichuan region of China is known for its spicy foods. And pandas. (only they're not spicy... just cute... and hopefully never eaten! - I'm betting that would only happen if they got smuggled into the Guangdong province!)

I've always kind of had a basic love for spicy foods - Indian, Mexican, Thai - but they were never a staple of my diet. Not an "everyday" kind of love. More like a casual "maybe I'll see you on Friday night?" kind of infatuation.

However, this past year, when we would order out for lunch at work and Metis was making the phone call and I was asked "Ni shan chu shenma?" ( What do you want to eat?) - my answer was usually short and simple. Something like- "spice. beef. noodles. no bones". or sometimes Mapo Tofu ( a spicy tofu) and rice.

I'm guessing the fact that the winter was REALLY cold ( despite never snowing- it was still that "damp cold" kind of cold - and the apartments are not heated- unless you buy a space heater ) in Foshan, made my desire for hot chilli an unconscious one. My body knew HEAT/CHILLI/SPICE could warm my bones!

It actually got to the point where I was using "Watson's Chilli Body Wash" in the shower every morning. ( I'm looking for a picture of it on Google now, but I can't find it.) Basically "Watson's" is like a "Duane Reade" or "CVS"  ( I think they're in Taiwan too). So Watson's was the "generic brand name" ... of this body wash.  At first I thought "Chilli" - like "chill. cooling. cold" -(despite it being in a RED bottle! ). But then when I USED it I discovered that ....

it HEATS your body. Literally, after you get out of the shower and towel off and put your clothes on, you will continue to feel WARMTH radiating from SELECT PARTS of your body! - for me it was usually my arms and my butt. Sometimes my legs. It reminded me of that one time I rode in my old boss Dalinda's BMW that had heated seats. My "seat" was definitely heated. But it was a good thing. Nice and warm. I think it was supposed to be a "slimming" body wash too.  Maybe it will help your metabolism? I don't know. I lost ( and have still kept off ) 10 lbs in China - but I wouldn't say the body wash did it - it was just the result of a complete diet change.

**ALSO- if you are in China/Taiwan or anywhere a chilli body wash is sold and you are about to purchase this product- use it selectively. It's not meant for .. ummm ..every part of your body. I'm sure in some areas ... like your... "eyes" and stuff .. it would be quite painful. I know I don't have to tell you. You're smart- you know this.  Use two different washclothes. That's my last word. **

ok moving forward ....

For the two weeks being home now, I've noticed different things. I've been "assessing" (as my father likes to say about my mother - who is a nurse - "stop assessing I'm fine!" ).

Before moving to China, I used to crack my finger bones a lot. Not my knuckles, but my fingers- pushing them back, stretching them, they would occasionally crack. In China - I never did this. I never had to crack them. ("hot chilli" is supposedly good for arthritis/good for your bones). I didn't even realize this until I came home though.

Also, I've noticed feeling kind of "body achy" at times since being home here. Not in the "post-dance class" body ache kind of way. More like a "bone-ache" ... like my bones are tired. I'm thinking maybe it's an allergic reaction to something. Maybe wheat-gluten? .... I don't know. I'm trying to figure what's different.

BUT even if it could have happened in China, I'm realizing that, that never used to happen in China - because I consumed and washed my body with CHILLI peppers!! - which are supposed to be good for arthritis/bone/joint pain. They supposedly are a natural remedy to take the pain away.

I mean yeah, I had this great "flowery jasmine scented" body wash and also a great coconut-almond body scrub. But the "Chilli" was pretty much a staple - all the others came and went.

So maybe that's what I've got to change being home here now? I'm trying. I actually just had a bowl of elbow macaroni with carrots, spinach and dried cranberries with a home made little soy sauce/chilli sauce/sugar/salt/black pepper/olive oil dressing for lunch.

I'm thinking "Heat" might be my middle name. My Chinese name is  Li Xia Tian. Li is my family name ( given to me by Lisa) and "Xia Tian" means -Summer - (given to me by Metis)  Summer in China= hot, warm, spicy, lychee season, etc...etc.  I'm thinking it fits me - spicy foods, warm weather, and an abundance of lychees. That's the best! Also, in southern China, summer comes earlier than in the USA. The heat of summer comes in April in the Foshan/Guangdong area of China .... which is when I arrived last year.

Soooo, in addition to jet-lag, your body will probably feel different things- maybe allergies/body sensitivities when you come home from China or wherever you are now. Trying to remember "what you did differently" when you were abroad and adding those things into your everyday life back at home, can help with the re-adjustment.

I know for me, it seems like there is A LOT of food here in New York. A lot of choices and I'm kind of never sure what I want to eat. I'm not craving anything specific. I haven't even eaten "REAL" pizza yet ( or any kind- not even fake Pizza Hut pizza.) . When I've been in the city, I've been hanging around Koreatown a lot in NYC - gone to Kyochon for Korean Fried Chicken - (their honey chicken wings might just be something I start craving regularly! Seriously I forgot how- so bad/soooo good- they were.)

For now, ironically, when I really do crave something it's been dumplings or noodles.
I just gotta remember to add the chilli sauce. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment