Real Food

I went pumpkin hunting, and found so much more.  I always do.  I love market days.

It’s the season when cabbage and leeks are everywhere.  I’m told that, years ago, the Chinese would set out cabbage and leeks during this season to dry so they would have vegetables during the long, harsh winter.  Though we can buy fresh produce year-round now, this tradition continues.  Why wouldn’t you want to eat vegetables picked in season?   Right now, they are on nearly every landing in the stairwell, and there is a stack of cabbage outside our building too.  Once in a while, we’ll see a resident choose the best one for that night’s meal.

Let us not forget the apples.  Gorgeous apples streaked in red, yellow and green.  Perfectly crispy and slightly sweet.

And winter is coming, so the smell of roasting sweet potatoes fills the streets of Shenyang.  Choose the one you want. They’ll put it in a plastic bag and you can eat it as you walk along.  They very well may be a perfect fast food.  My latest 地瓜 purchase led me to the sweet gentleman pictured below.  For sure, this will be one of my favorite photos for a very long time.

Enjoy the pictures and beautiful food prose by Mary Oliver.

Beans by Mary Oliver

They’re not like peaches or squash.
Plumpness isn’t for them.
They like being lean, as if for the narrow path.
The beans themselves sit quietly inside their green pods.
Instinctively one picks with care,
never tearing down the fine vine,
never not noticing their crisp bodies,
or feeling their willingness for
the pot, for the fire.
I have thought sometimes that
something―I can’t name it―
watches as I walk the rows,
accepting the gift of their lives
to assist mine.
I know what you think: this is foolishness.
They’re only vegetables.
Even the blossoms with which they
begin are small and pale, hardly significant.
Our hands, or minds, our
feet hold more intelligence. With
this I have no quarrel.
But, what about virtue?

For more beautiful poems by Mary Oliver, visit  Her poem, The Journey, is truly a work of art that speaks to me and for me.

A staple in our winter home – Potato Leek Soup from Pinch My Salt –
















Off to Market

Last summer, a friend introduced me to Bei Shi, a market on the north side of Shenyang that sells vegetables, meats and some other wonderful products.  I returned the favor by introducing it to many others.   Now, this is one of my favorite places to go.

First of all, everything is fresh.  I’ve never purchased anything here that wasn’t terrific.  Second, the stall vendors seem to know us now.  They wave and smile, and they are happy when you buy something from them.  The make recommendations on what is good.  They repeat their Chinese if we seem confused.  The meat vendor where some of us buy our ground beef once spent several minutes writing down the characters and telling us the names of the various cuts of beef.  As if I’ll remember those.  I can’t even remember “apple” half the time.  Third, we buy fresh pasta, dumplings and tortillas there.  Of course, I use the pasta for spaghetti not Chinese soup.  And the tortillas make excellent quesadillas as well as their spicy egg wraps.  About a pound of fresh noodles costs 2 kuai, about 25 cents.  One of the best deals in China.

I would choose a visit to this market over a trip to any grocery store in the city.  Enjoy the pictures, and we’ll continue enjoying the gorgeous and delicious food.