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Day 44 Lanzhou

July 30, 2011

July 9, 2011 (Saturday)

Forty-fourth day in China, first day in Lanzhou: food, 正宁路 Zhengning night market, 黄河 Yellow River

2011年7月9日 在中國第44天, 在蘭州第1天: 食物, 正寧路, 黃河第一橋

In the cold, rainy early afternoon, we walked up 永昌路 Yongchang Street, and at the corner of a square squeezed into a packed restaurant for a meal. We paid at the window, gave our cards to the cooks working behind glass, facing the street, and received 麻辣鸡汤粉 spicy chicken broth rice noodles, 酿皮 niangpi, 包子 baozi, and skewers of pork and squid. Bought more medicines at a pharmacy.

We set out to find the bustling street below our window, and a few minutes from the door found 正宁路 Zhengning Street, the night market. The center of the street became a shoulder-to-shoulder path between food stalls. Behind the stalls were tables, behind the tables, restaurants. Many kinds of food were on sale, like cold noodles, fruit, nuts, barbecue, grilled fish, and lamb. We drank 杏皮茶 apricot juice and ate spicy potato fries and grilled fish. At the fry stall, the cook whisked potato slices in and out of boiling oil. At the fish stall, two cooks cook clamped two fish at a time in iron tongs, and held them over the fire, swapping tongs to cook many fish at once while the customers sat on stools behind.

One of Sawaki Kôtarô’s comments on Hong Kong in 1973 stuck with me:

“In Hong Kong, every day was like a festival.” – Sawaki Kôtarô Shinya Tokkyû (1986)

We visited Lanzhou on no special occasion, and yet the nighttime energy sparked a party atmosphere. We walked down to the Yellow River and crossed Zhongshan Bridge, decked in garish lights. Two illuminated billboards for China Mobile stared each other down over the swift current. On the opposite shore were buildings in pseudo-classical Chinese style going up the mountain. We took a cab back to Zhengning Street, shouldered our way back toward the hotel, and ate hot soup boiled in an iron vat. A pipe underneath spat a stream of fire. The sweet soup mixed raisins, egg, and other dry fruits in a fermented rice porridge.

“Of course, more than four million people–on top of carrying out their daily lives–couldn’t possibly hold a festival every day. But for me, their daily life itself I could not help but feel was like a festival.” – Sawaki (1986)





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