Saturday, November 8, 2008

Autumn in Suzhou, China

1. Selling Shanghai Hairy Crabs and River Shrimp In The Waiting Room of Suzhou Railway Station

2. A Popular Pastime Among Chinese Babyboomers: Card Games At The Park

3. Aplate of Jellied Shark Meat.

4. An Autumnal Hot Pot Dish: Frog Legs, Lotus Roots, Leek, Garlic, Pine Nuts etc

4. The Ancient Back Gate to City of Suzhou,

5. View From One of the Many Bridges in this Venice of the East.
Om my last trip to Shanghai, I took a 30 minute train ride to Suzhou, in Jiangsu province ,one of the most beautiful cities in China-sometimes called the Venice of the East, because of the number of canals and bridges that criss-cross the city. Being on the lower reaches of the Yangtze river, Suzhou has always been an important city for commerce, having been in existence for at least 2500 years. But it's also known for its scenic bridges, pagodas, shophouses with verandahs and wood- carved windows. Though only about 80 kilometers from metropolitan Shanghai it has a distinctly rural ambience. Where else, can you find man hawking his Hairy Crabs and Shrimps in the waiting room of a railway station? [top image]
Second picture shows one of the favorite pastimes of babyboomers in China, a game of cards in the park. Inveterate gamblers, or just a nice way to pass the time? Well, it certainly beats walking the dog or sitting on the couch watching television. It is a curious thing to see in China-that whenever a group of people are waiting for something or someone, such as limousine chaffeurs waiting for their passengers, lorry drivers enduring a blocked toll road, or passenegrs on a ferry, someone will fish out a pack of playing cards, another will roll out a piece of cloth on the ground, and there you have it-an instant casino!
The Chinese of course, have always been passionate about food, resulting in one of the most unique cuisines in the world, that not only delight the sense of taste but food is also considered for its medicinal benefits too. Here, we see two dishes. The Shark's meat terrine is a piquant dish to be enjoyed with good wine, or even beer if the weather is hot. The Frog's Leg Hot Pot is a dish that is popular during Autumn, in preparation for the chills of Winter. There must be at least a dozen other ingredients tossed in with the frog' legs including ginger, dried chilis, garlic, cilantro, and bits of herbs like ginseng and cordyceps, wolf berry, leek, lotus root and capsicum. All in all, a most nourishing dish with plenty of Yang.
The last two images are typical of Suzhou. The bridges, canals, pagodas and houses alongside. Then there is the ancient gate that guards the city, in this case, it say's 'Back Gate" so there must be a Front Gate. Such stone-walled ancient gates are common in many of the older Chinese cities in the days of internecine disputes and raids by other cities and clans.

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