(Week of 12/14-19 in Zhangye, Gansu Province, China)
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been plagued by a minor inconvenience: whenever an inordinate quantity of good food is placed in front of me, I tend to eat an inordinately unhealthy amount of it. Surely, I do not stand alone in this matter, but when it comes to food, I feel I often lack the self-control and common sense that seems to come naturally to many others. Considering my inability to moderate my intake of well-cooked food, if someone were plotting my demise, all s/he would have to do is adorn my bedroom with perfectly-cooked steamed fishies, plump roasted chickens, buttloads of fruit, dark chocolate, freshly-baked rustic breads, custard-filled pastries, and so forth. In all likelihood, I would eat myself to death. I am being somewhat facetious, but give me the chance and I will probably surprise you with how much food I can pack into my frame.
As soon as we set foot in Zhangye, my combustible efforts to shapen up over the last few weeks of 2008 burst into sad, sad flames. However, I maintain that I was not to blame: it was the fault of our overly generous hosts for herding us to restaurant after restaurant after restaurant and ordering more stomach warming and palate tingling foods than we knew what to do with.
You can tell it’s a problem when you need to start balancing plates on top of other plates on a table for 12:
Especially when it becomes a pattern:
Sadly, I have a knee-knocking weakness for spicy food, which all but did me in on many an occasion:
And a huge vat of hotpot broth is never a good omen for a downsizing stomach, especially when said vat is accompanied by a seemingly endless array of delicious weird things screaming to be dunked into the fiery peppercorn- and chili oil-laden liquid of heaven.
We took a pass on these, but “flowering” mini hot dogs, anyone?
As guests in a foreign country, I am certain we at least lived up to the impression of Americans as more than capable eaters. One can but hope we accomplished something greater.