Forget smiling in the rain…after 5 continuous day of rain, rain, and rain, I’m crapping at the rain.
And that’s what Los Angeles is doing right back at us, too. Crapping on us. It’s as if it has been holding its bladder forever, and now, in a flood of diarrhea, it’s unleashing everything—and I mean everything.
On Saturday, I opened my eyes at about 11 a.m. in the morning, and saw that all was dark. I could hear the rain pouring outside. I went back to sleep.
At 2 p.m. in the afternoon, I peeked open my eyes again, and it was still pouring away. And still dark. I tossed to my side and closed my eyes again.
At 4 p.m. in the late afternoon, it was almost pitch black, and the sky was STILL peeing! What the fudge! By then I was pissed, so pissed that I shut my eyes, curled up in my warm bed, and stubbornly refused to get up.
I finally reluctantly dragged myself out of bed at 8:35 p.m. It wasn’t that I wanted to. It was just that by then, my whole body was aching from lying about for more than 15 hours, my head was pounding, and my eyes puffy from too much sleep.
Oh, and guess what? It was still pouring.
Ha, the irony. Just the day before, I had posted about how I was freaking smiling and dancing in the rain. I wrote such a positive, cheery post, but the next day, my previous sunshiny attitude was making me nauseous.
You don’t appreciate what you have until it is taken from you. And right now, I miss the sun. I miss being able to walk out of my room without having to shroud myself with a towel.
You see, the bathroom and the kitchen is situated in the main house, which means I have to cross the yard to go pee, which means I get wet every time I need to relieve or feed myself. Which is frequent, considering I am holed up in this house with nothing to do except eat and drink copious amounts of hot tea.
Uh…what’s that? Did you just…did you just roll your eyes at me?!
Fine, I realize that the majority of you huddling and shivering in below freezing temperatures or caught in a blizzard, so my grumbles about the rain seems petty and stupid.
But come on, humor me. I am now an Angeleno. We Angelenos don’t know what to do with ourselves when the weather isn’t 70 degrees and sunny.
Anyway, as I said, we don’t appreciate what we have until it is taken from us. That is also certainly true for my Advanced Chinese class, which ended about a week ago.
I am right now regretting that I treated my Advanced Chinese class with a blasé attitude. The truth was that to me, it was an easy class. There were times when I got bored in class, because the stuff we were learning weren’t exactly new for me.
But I’m realizing that if I had just been more alert and humble in class, I could have enjoyed and gained so much more. Especially because I had one of the best professors I’ve met, and freaking awesome classmates.
We were a huge group for a language class. We had about 18 students, squeezed into a mal-equipped room, repeating Chinese vocabulary words and sentence structures after the professor. And boy, did we have some fun times. There were times when the interaction between the professor and the students would leave me clutching at the stitch to my sides. Yes, fun times indeed.
The last week of the semester, the professor generously decided to treat the whole class to dim sum. I told you this professor was freaking cool!
He invited us to Empress Harbor at Monterey Park. And since it’s dim sum, it had to be early (for me!) at 11 a.m.
The professor knew college students well, though. “Are you sure you guys can get up that early?” he asked in concern. Dear professor, for free food, I’ll get up anytime of the day.
I don’t have a car, so I pooled a ride from one of my classmates, Catherine:
I only got to know Catherine more after our final project together. Again, that was during the last few weeks of the semester, and I regret that I didn’t get to know her better earlier, because she is kinda awesome.
At my table also sat the professor (woo hoo!) and four of my other classmates. Say hi to Benita and Mona (respectively):
And to Sharon and Long Tung:
What a fine group we made, eh?
That was just the first table. We had to divide into three tables, because our class was so large.
But okay, let’s get back to the freaking amazing food.
If you’ve never been to a dim sum restaurant, you don’t know what you’re missing! Dim sum is a Cantonese-style leisurely lunch/brunch, where you basically drink tea, and chat over various appetizer-sized portions of food.
At a formal dim sum restaurant, you don’t get a menu. Instead, you have these servers wheeling around trolleys of food.
But be prepared to spend money, because these servers can sometimes get very persistent in making you pick certain dishes. I think they are paid by what they sell, so they literally force you to accept food.
Still, the fun in dim sum is to haggle with these servers; they in rapid Cantonese and you with colorful sign languages.
We started out with two types of tea, which the servers refilled throughout the luncheon. We had jasmine tea and chrysanthemum tea.
I hate chrysanthemum, so I stuck with jasmine.
And then, the attack of the trolleys began. Trolley after trolley charged at us, lifting bowls and plates of food, thrusting them at us. One lady even tried to sell us some 5-grain rice dish insisting that it was “So healthy! Diet food! Make you lose fat!” in choppy English.
Because that’s just how we roll, baby. If we wanted diet food we’ll stay at home and chomp on massaged kale. Or kale chips.
This was really good. The outer dough was made from glutinous rice, so it was chewy and sticky, yet crispy on the outside. It also turned out to be my professor’s favorite, but he offered the last piece to me. Aww.
The one dim sum dish that I insisted on ordering, however, was the har gow:
God I LOVE this dish!!! It’s my favorite dim sum dish ever.
What it is, is fresh shrimp encased in a translucent, chewy wrapper, which is pleated into a pretty half-moon shape.
As you can see, dim sum is not exactly vegetarian-friendly. Well, I mean, we are talking about Chinese food. The Chinese will eat anything with four legs except a table, and anything that can fly except the plane.
My other favorite dim sum dish is the xiao long bao:
But unfortunately, it wasn’t the best xiao long bao I had. After my trip to Din Tai Fung, I just cannot be satisfied by mediocre soup dumplings anymore.
It wasn’t bad; I just thought the skin was a bit too thick compared to the filling.
Another fail was the chee cheong fun:
These are rice crepes, dotted with shrimp and doused in a sweet soy sauce.
But unfortunately, the crepe was kind of soggy. I had to choke it down with lots of chili sauce.
We also had rice dumplings, or zong zi:
This is glutinous rice stuffed with various fillings, in this case Chinese sausages and mushrooms, pressed into a triangular shape, and then wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed.
Not my favorite. It is hard to get really, really good zongzi…and if you do, be prepared to spend a LOT, because it is rather labor-intensive to make.
And of course, dim sum ain’t complete without some char siew baos, or BBQ Pork buns:
I had two of these fluffy, sweet and savory delicacies. Yummy.
My friend Denise insisted we get dan ta, or egg tarts, which are her favorite:
We got several plates of these tiny egg custard tarts because everyone loved them so much.
Adorable little packets, huh? These ain’t vegetarian though. Real egg tarts are made with lard. Heh heh heh.
Another lovely dessert which I prefer is the deep-fried sesame balls:
These are sesame-studded glutinous rice puffs with sweet lotus seed filling inside.
You must order these if you are ever at a dim sum restaurant! And I think they are vegetarian…unless the lotus seed filling is mashed with pork fat (which won’t surprise me at all).
One dessert I absolutely detest, however…is the dou hua, or bean curd pudding:
EEEW!!!! GAG! Why would anyone make tofu into dessert! YUCK! It’s this slimy, slippery tofu swimming in some kind of lightly sweetened syrup soup.
I think this is the only truly vegetarian and vegan dish here. I stayed clear from this one. For the record, my mom loves this dish, and so did all my friends in Singapore. I remember when I was in elementary school, my friends would drag me to the dou hua cafe and I was the only one who refused to eat it.
And last but not least…we had stewed chicken feet:
Yes. Chicken feet. With the skin and claws and everything. Gross. My Chinese friends adored it, though. Denise even demonstrated for me the correct way to enjoy this…fine delicacy.
First, stick the thing into your mouth, and suck.
Suck, suck, suck all the edible tendons and flesh away, and then spit out the bones. Only the bones.
There. Sucked clean. Come to think of it, it’s pretty damn economical. Gross, but economical.
And that concluded our little dim sum class field trip. As we said our goodbyes, I suddenly felt a wave of sadness. I would miss this class very much, I thought, as I thanked my professor and waved goodbye to my friends.
And I was right, because I miss it dearly already right now. Sigh. I guess the lesson of the day is to appreciate what you’ve got right now.
And I suppose that means I’ve got to make an effort to appreciate Los Angeles’ diarrheic weather right now. Hmmph. I’ll try. But when the sun finally shows up, I’m celebrating by going grocery shopping.
Question of the Day: Which dim sum dish above most appealed to you?