China, May 21, 2000
I want a T-bone steak, and make it rare!
Once upon a time, long, long ago,
in land far, far away, there
was a vegetarian. A man who refrained from all meat, poultry, pork, and
fish products, and once, to attract the attention of a
young lady, even skipped out on dairy foods, going vegan for three
months. He was very healthy, not suffering from anemia, as BB-Q loving
Texans would like to believe, though the young ladies never did notice him,
until, one day, he moved to Russia.
There, in the land of pelmini, shashlik, and way too much caviar, he gave up his bourgeois Western ways to assimilate into the meat-mad society. He welcomed the change, even if his body did not agree to the new addition at first, for variety to him, was the spice of life. Time passed, and soon he left that land where the only vegetables were mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, for its Southern neighbor, China.
It was here, that an odd craving came to him. Looking around, he noticed that meat in this different land was never served as a steak. It was never massive chunks of flesh skewered over a wood flame. And it was not limited to muscle tissue either.
In the capital of his newly adopted home, he grew accustomed to the small slivers of beef, served in portions small enough for the odd, stick-like utensils the locals used. It was there that he accepted the smaller, coarser, meat bits grilled over coal embers. And it was in the Southern terminus of Hong Kong that he found rooster testicles presented to him for human consumption.
He found his craving to be a desire for a solid, sizable, steak. One that would quench his bloodthirst better than the frozen, raw strips of horse he consumed in Mongolia. Or poultry that was more substantial than the Peking Duck, which to his disappointment was only caramelized skin and light fat, served to him by important publishers in the capital.
No, he dreamed of his meal in Esperance, Australia, where the steak was cut with a cleaver, or the BB-Q kangaroo cooked by his cousin, which melted in his mouth. He only dreamed of such a meal until he found the Yabaolu district of Beijing. In this Russian enclave of China's capital, his dreams came to reality in two wonderful days of true beef, pork, and lamb (but no dog!), shashlik at the finest Russian restaurants outside of Moscow.
Oh, how our traveling man's dreams were fulfilled! Oh, how he is happy to laze in the bright summer sun on the third day of his reality. Such is this life for him.