Talking Trash

Last Year, my town switched vendors to boost garbage collection to new heights of automation. Within a month, its new contractor had distributed two massive two-wheeled receptacles to every household: a black one for non-recyclables, capacity 64 gallons, and a bigger blue-and-green one—96 gallons, large enough to stuff a couple of non-dismembered bodies into — for recyclables. The town instructed residents to wheel out their bins and line them up at the curb on pickup day, front facing the street, with lids closed. As you can see, we dutifully obey, each creating his or her no-parking zone. Continue reading “Talking Trash”

Food for Thuột

When it comes to exotic foods I’m willing to try almost anything once. (Sometimes more than once; I’ve eaten over 100 species of mushrooms, 90% of which I picked myself.) And I remember being the only American at a conference in Manila once who was willing to chow down balut (hard-boiled duck embryos sold by street vendors working for duck abortion mills). They were sort of okay if heavily salted and washed down with quantities of San Miguel beer, and while I wouldn’t deem the taste indescribable I doubt you want me to go on about it.

In my never ending quest for exotic foodstuffs, every few months I stop by my favorite Asian supermarket to stock up on quirky condiments, sauces and spices, and replenish my ingredients for my healthful morning mushroom, ginseng, and ginger tea. (That morning slug may be the only healthful thing I do most days.) My mammoth mart is run by Chinese but features foodstuffs from all over East Asia, fresh, frozen, dried, pickled, and salted. There’s a huge fish counter featuring live prawns, frogs, and mollusks and three guys chopping, filleting, and gutting at least 20 kinds of fish (eels too!), a meat counter that I tend to avoid, and a selection of fowl that includes head-on chickens and ducks, gizzards, feet, tongues, squabs, sparrows, and some weird black-fleshed chickens I tried once and didn’t care for. (I hope the color isn’t something they put in their feed.) Continue reading “Food for Thuột”