Pretty Please, With a Tomato on Top?

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*Sweet garnish subject to culture* Two years have gone by but I find myself once again back at the same wheel of fortune a la eating style. Or should is it more like Russian Roulette? Possibly. On my third dining adventure here in Tongxiang, China, I came equipped with my camera to try to capture why, despite the adventurous eater I am, I sometimes get overwhelmed with the food I’m supposed to eat (yes, I walked 20 minutes to a McDonald’s for lunch today with two businessmen from Michigan.)
This large lazy susan has affectionately been dubbed the Fear Factor Wheel by dining friends. Now, a lens provides somewhat of a barrier to your varying gag reflexes, appetites and judging senses; possibly a “it looks okay, what is it?” Well, don’t be fooled. Imagine dishes coming one after another with names like Red Cooked Pigs Knuckle, Sauteed Tree Mushrooms (yum) with Pig Tripe (no thanks) or Sauteed Eel in Fermented Black Bean Sauce. And that’s after starting off with appetizers of pig tongue, canned and pressed pigs ear, and what was either a vegetable or sea creature. Yes, one after the other. Every dishes that in a U.S. restaurant might make you say, ‘yum!’ are presented in very unique fashions–it reminds me of that scene in A Christmas Story where they are brought a duck with its face smiling up at them.To prove my point, here is one dining experience alone. My favorite is when I finally got a western dessert in an array of sweets to choose from, and it came topped not with a cherry but a tomato. Apparently the two are interchangeable (and while they may both have seeds, be round and red, in my mind they most assuredly are not re: this blog post.)

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