I’d say caveat emptor, but since you didn’t pay for this magazine, I’ll just figuratively flick a desanquinated slice of lime in your general direction and deliver the intel with no more pomp than either you or the circumstances deserve.
Yu Hua, one of China’s most internationally-renowned contemporary writers, and the first Chinese author to receive the James Joyce Award, often chronicled the Cultural Revolution with startling ruthlessness. His most famous novel, To Live, was turned into a film by China’s most famous director, Zhang Yimou and starred China’s most famous actors, Ge You and Gong Li. While it was banned in China due to its politics, it went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Ecuador, also known to many as the “Middle of the Earth,” straddles the Equator, from which its name derives meaning, “equal.” My journey began in Quito, the country’s capital, situated at an altitude of 2800m above sea level, ringed by six volcanoes, two of which are still active.
The other day I was having dinner and drinks with some Singaporean friends. The topic turned to living in Hangzhou, as conversations among foreigners are wont to do. I asked them to list the top five things they liked about Hangzhou.
What? You mean Xinwen Lianbo, the nightly national news from CCTV? Or perhaps the ever-charming and always candid Yang Rui, who demanded a sweeping-up of foreign trash and called Melissa Chan, an American-Chinese reporter at Al-Jarzeera, a “bitch”?*
Heavens, no – we mean The Voice of China, the runaway hit reality show produced by Zhejiang Satellite TV.
Imagine you are a fish – a shimmering, iridescent pelagic beauty, fluttering about and zipping through a three-dimensional world that you feel weighing upon your every scale. Life is good – you had a whale of a time in school, and now your friends include Hollywood starfish. But in your suburban saline universe, scallops live in the sorts of places your fish mother warned you about -- the muddy, gunky parts of town you don’t want to visit after dark. But you are not a fish, thank Neptune, and so none of the foregoing is relevant. But not being a fish, you know that these fascinating marine molluscs are among the finest flowers in the aquatic protein bouquet. My hometown, as it happens, is as famous for its scallops as it is for the heroin junkies and Azorean riff-raff who harvest and shuck them. They are my favorite treat from the briny breadbasket, and one among the very few edible creatures I know anything about. (Woodpigeon is the other. Long story.) Now I can tell you, preparing scallops adequate for the domestic dining table is considerably easier than whipping-up lobster thermador, and roughly on par with the skill-level needed not to hopelessly screw-up a tolerable Shrimp Mozambique. But to cook scallops well is no easy feat, and those served to me at Kikaboni by Stiller weren’t good. They were divine.
From the moment you meet her, it’s easy to see why Kerry Dixon knows all about babies. The proof isn’t just found in her own big family (which includes four children by birth, two children by adoption, a husband... and even a dog named “Twix”) but also in her naturally calm, reassuring, and nurturing demeanor. On top of that, I can personally attest to her ability to operate under duress as well. After all, she had only been in China for about 48 hours, but still graciously allowed me to thoroughly “grill” her, in spite of the effects of jet-lag.
Of course, I tried to make it as painless as possible. Here’s what we discussed: