At the mall in Chinatown this weekend, Aarthi and I went into a candy store to check out the treats. I expected to see the Beijing equivalents of Nerds or gummi bears or Swedish fish, but instead I saw individually-wrapped “olives” and bins with “dried cod.”
I figured these had to be bizarre candies, much like the Jelly Belly “buttered popcorn,” which is so creepy, unnatural and delicious. Because obviously a store wouldn’t sell mass-produced fish. Or individually wrapped olives.
And if it did, surely little kids wouldn’t eat any of it.
Denial is a very powerful force.
Clearly I was very confused because Aarthi had to explain to me that we were looking at savory snacks, and that those bins were in fact filled with olives and dried cod. The presentation was so similar to American-style pick-a-mix-candy that it was hard to believe that this adorable dried squid, for example, was not a huge piece of bubble gum.
Here is a close-up:
I looked online to learn more about this and one website compared it to squid jerky.
Apparently dried fish is a very popular snack in many parts of the world.
I was also intrigued by the individually wrapped dried scallops, called conpoy.
I wish I could say I tried one, but I’m not at adventurous eater. Which is also why I passed on the dried cod. If people were cities based on how adventurous they were as eaters, I’m Orlando. (That’s a Book of Mormon reference.)
Outside, the mall, on Main Street, people were selling fruits I’m not used to seeing in Manhattan.
Like this dragon fruit:
To be fair, I’d heard of dragon fruit, but I wouldn’t have known I was looking at it. I’d have guessed this was guava. I think I’ve even had dragon fruit in Hawaii.
Apparently, the reason why a fruit can be this beautiful but not all over menus everywhere is because it’s just a pretty face—not all that flavorful when you get to know it.
In conclusion: the world is a big interesting place, and I have lots to learn.