Tuesday, March 3, 2009 ;
We had 3 more new members at worship service at our home.
The 3 guys are final year Uni students frm Hubei who are here for their work attachment module in their degree course.
It was very funny... They arrived first, before the regular members, and we were introducing ourselves and getting to know each other. One of them had the same English name as ds1!
Then, I didn't know they are from Hubei. I thought they were locals.
So when they asked me, "how have you gotten used to this place?" I replied, "Good, we are settled down, very happy..."
Then he asked me, "HOw about the food? Did you like it?"
When faced with such a Q, of course I would mention all the things I like. How can I say I am not used to certain foods?
So I said oh, I learnt to make jiaozi, so delicious, and the noodles are so springy and so on.
He grimaced and said, "we all hate the food here, it is not nice at all, has no taste and we cannot stomach it. we are all suffering here."
I was very puzzled and then he asked, "Singapore also eats southern Chinese food right? It is so different from here, how can you even like the food here?"
Ooh! Ok! Now I understand.
So I asked him, "Err, where are you from?"
"Hubei" was his answer.
I had no idea where Hubei is, so I asked a neutral Q to mask my ignorance, "Is Hubei considered southern or northern China?" Phew, turned out Hubei is rather central, so that's my saving grace. Imagine if Hubei is near Hainan, they'd laugh their heads off.
They said Hubei is situated rather in the center, but drawing a line across there, Hubei is considered more similar to southern China and Sze Chuan in terms of language, culture and food.
I see! Then I admitted that there are indeed some food we miss a lot and of course it takes getting used to. They replied that they would NEVER get used to the food here. haha. I wouldn't expect a fellow mainlander to be even more repulsed by northern cuisine than me.
Later, when a Tianjin local arrived, after niceties and introductions, they again went on about the food topic. haha. So funny!
And they launched into a mini-debate, because the local Tianjiner was indignant and insisted the food is good here.
It was particularly hilarious when they talked about "豆腐脑” or what we call "豆花" (beancurd) in Spore.
The guys asked the TJer, "Is your doufunao sweet or salty?"
The TJer said, "Of course it is salty! How can it be sweet? Out of your mind!"
Hubei guys: See? That's where you northerners are weird! We have never heard of salty doufunao. The first time we ate it here, we had to spit it out! Yucks!
TJer: What? I have never seen sweet doufunao. That's is not the correct way to make doufunao. How can sweet doufunao be nice?
Hubei guys (trying to get us involved in the argument): Now, you tell me, in Singapore, is your doufunao sweet or salty?
Me: Errr, sweet actually. But...
Hubei guys: (cutting me off) See? There! Told you, no such thing as salty doufunao. The proper way is the sweet form.
And I just typed it in on Baidu and really, at once there are many images and recipes like this one, and they are all salty!
I am not used to the salty form too. But being from Singapore, where there are so many cultures living together, I am already used to many different ways of food preparation from the various cultures, and I have no problem seeing the same food presented in different ways.
But it is very funny to watch them argue so earnestly. And it just shows that the way you are brought up really shapes how you think in future. Even the most basic food, if you are brought up used to a certain way, you would always think that is the best way and the nicest way to do it.
After that, they debated over steamboat soup stock. Hubei guys felt the soup stock here has no taste at all, while the TJer felt that it's the sauces that matter, the soup should be kept bland and not so spicy.
Anyway... after worship and good fellowship, we had lunch together too, and had a lot more jokes told to us, all regarding the vast differences each state and province of China has to offer. A lot revolved around the accents of people from different states.
2 of them played Chinese chess with ds1. One of them lost to him and his namesake won him. They had fun.
Then before they left, we took a group photo together.
Dh is happy that there is more MANpower now. Then he need not do the prayers, lead singing, be Lord's Supper usher, collect contributions, and preach the sermon all by himself. haha.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow