I remember yesterday, I heard my friend talk about the importance of memory in our lives. When we look back to our clearest memories, we remember those that made us feel something different, something new. This is the same way in which we create memories and moments meant remembering—-by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we allow ourselves to create moments worth living and memories worth remembering.
I guess that’s the reason I haven’t written in a long time. There wasn’t much change in my life during the summer; I was interning and living in New York City full-time, something much in my comfort zone. I went to work in the morning, left work at six, ate dinner with friends, and then retired to my bed to binge watch Breaking Bad. I was too comfortable.
So, I left and went to China.
Ok, ok, so it wasn’t exactly like I just dropped my life and flew to Shanghai, but at the same time, that’s exactly what it felt like. This is my first extended stay in China as a study away student for the Fall semester and I have to say, the food has been great and ridiculously, criminally inexpensive. (I know, I finally got to the food part of this post.)
Aside from my embarrassing attempts to communicate what bubble tea I would like, ordering food has not been too difficult (thanks to my fantastic Mandarin-speaking friends). The most difficult part has been trying to figure out what I wanted to order. Every menu I have seen so far has the thickness of a full family photo album. It’s overwhelming but so comforting to see the glossy photographs and cryptic characters scribbled underneath. Ordering Chinese food is much like flipping through old family photos; each dish captures a period of Chinese history, much like how a photograph tells us about who we were at a specific moment in time.
Have you ever thought about how many people have eaten the same dish before you? When you share food, you share memories. Think of all of those special moments people have shared with others while eating this one particular dish—-birthdays, promotions, graduations, first dates. When I remember my most special memories, food was always involved. The chinese sausage and sticky rice stuffed turkey at my first real Thanksgiving, the basket of steamed fish heads submerged in aromatic broth the first week I arrived in Shanghai, the juiciness of the ruby-colored French Beaujolais I shared on a special rainy night, the sweet and sticky gloriousness of frosting and cake all over my face on my sixteen birthday..
It goes without saying that Shanghai has been amazing. The places, the food, and most importantly, the people I’ve shared it with.
If you’re interested in seeing what I’m doing in Shanghai, visit my travel blog.