The hot pot tasted of spoilt milk and grey, maze-like brain bits bobbled among the mushrooms and the red dates of the soup. Our waitress had told us that there would be no meat in the broth we were ordering, but obviously something had been lost in translation.
So, after two years in China, I did the only thing I could have done – I fished out the brain matter with my chopsticks, laid them in a neat pile to the side, and did my best not to taste the soup as I dipped enoki mushrooms and tofu skin in the boiling broth. Sometimes you do your best ordering off of a Chinese-only menu, but you still end up with chunks of brain in your soup. But that doesn’t stop you from ordering hot pot the next time you crave it.
Something about living in here China that has fascinated me so much is the way life here has made me immune to the absurd, has made me shrug off the illogical, has made me embrace the unreasonable. I both love and detest that situations like this leave me unfazed. And it’s not just the brains. It’s seeing the girl next to me on a plane pull out a pair of plastic gloves and a tupperware of chicken feet and proceed to suck the meat off the foot bones; it’s the daily near-avoidance of death by vehicular manslaughter; it’s the swarms of people, the questionable restaurant hygiene, the brain matter in my soup, but it is also no longer something that terrifies.
Living here is something that never stops being thrilling.