This post is long overdue, my bad. Just imagine the ability to time shift, then we’re okay.
Back in the fall, one of the areas that The Cat’s brother wanted us to visit was Panjin. Besides the red reed-grass beach (previously posted), another of the area’s claim to fame is its rice.
Some food facts (unsubstantiated, but nevertheless, commonly known in China). The main starch in the southern regions of China is rice. The starch of the northern regions tends to be more wheat. Panjin is considered a northern region. Why this anomaly?
In the early 1930′s (my brother-in-law can quote the exact date down to the hour), Japan invaded China. One of the regions that was invaded included Panjin (for the oil resources). The Japanese brought over their rice technology and the tradition stuck. The variety of rice is more like the sticky rice used in sushi.
Panjin rice is known throughout the country as being one of the best rice in China. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the rice from Panjin was designated the official rice served in the Olympic village. The rice is one of the gifts usually presented to officials and dignitaries visiting the area.
Enough of the history and cultural discussion. My brother-in-law (Y) warned us that we would be getting a couple of bags of rice during our visit to Panjin. But he also added that the bags are small (about 1.5 pounds each bag). When we left, Y’s friend and business associate presented us with a box containing eight bags of rice (twelve pounds!). She was going to give each of us a box (total 24 pounds!) but we begged off the second box.
At first, we were going to distribute the bags in our packed and carry-on bags and discard the box, but the box was kind of nice and sturdy. I thought the box could help protect the bags during travel. The Cat insisted on taking some of the bags, I gave her two. I packed the remaining six bags (with box) in my carry-on backpack.
Traveling in China is not always convenient. The trip from Panjin to Shanghai was an adventure in itself. Y decided to walk from where the airport shuttle dropped us off to our hotel in Shanghai, about 300 yards (the distance of about three football field lengths). The path included crossing a busy multi-lane street. About half-way, I began to wonder what Y did to p***-off his friend that she would give us eight bags of rice. Sigh. But then, I remembered that at one point in his life, my ancestor (great-great grandfather) was a rice merchant in Hawai’i (maybe he was trying to tell me something). My mantra to the hotel was “it’s all about the journey, it’s all about the journey, we will laugh about this when we’re old, it’s all about the journey.”
On our way back home, I was still packing the six bags of rice in by backpack. Our flight home took us through Seoul, Korea for a stop over. As we were boarding for the Seoul to Honolulu leg, we had to pass through a security check. The security officer that checked me at first couldn’t believe someone would pack rice as a souvenir. I offered to open the box to show her but she passed me through (she must have thought anyone crazy enough to pack rice was probably harmless). Plus, she was looking for liquids and flammables, not crazies.
We got a similar reaction going through customs back home. The customs officer asked if we thought there was no rice here that we had to bring it over.(I think she was trying to make a funny). Sigh.
The rice is very white and has a pearlized look to it.
So, was it worth it? The Cat thinks so. She said the rice is one of the best she’s tasted. She can eat the rice plain, without condiments or other food. The rice has a grassy smell when it’s cooking and while it’s still hot. Since The Cat likes fresh cooked rice (as opposed to leftover rice), I cook only what she can eat in one sitting.
On this trip we hauled rice, tea, and silk back from China. I’m thinking of changing my name to Aladdin and buying a camel next time we visit China. I’m due for a career change anyway (silk road music playing in the background).
Looking for a good pair of walking shoes/boots. Enjoy.