I have tried a bunch of different places. Breakfast joints tend to focus in one of three areas: noodles, bread or congee. I still love 凉皮 (cold noodle bands), especially now i found a place that opens at 9am and does a vege 肉夹馍 (pita-like sandwich) to go with it. For bread you can either go in the steam bun direction, with all the stuff you know from dim sum in the west, or you can go in the pancake and flaky pastries direction, which has more of a Middle East/Central Asia vibe. But the zhou, the zhou.
Zhou (粥) is the Chinese word for congee. I have never liked congee when i tried it in the west. It always seemed watery and insipid, and usually had all kinds of weird offal or seafood in it. As it turns out, that's just one of the variants.
When i was in the night market in Kaifeng, i ate what is now one of my favorite variants - 八宝粥 or 8-treasure congee. Each treasure is another grain or legume or fruit. So it has several different grains and peanuts and red beans and goji berries and i don't even know what in there. It's sweet. It's heavy. It's comforting. So, exactly like porridge should be.
I spend a lot of time talking to myself and tend to develop my own private names for things. In my world 八宝粥 (bā bǎo zhōu) is pronounced "bubble joe". The best days start with a bowl of bubble joe and and a mug of morning joe.
I don't even care that it's 30 degrees and humid outside.
It makes me happy.
Yesterday was Tomb-Sweeping Day, which is a Chinese festival similar to Day of the Dead. You are supposed to visit your ancestors' tombs, clean them up and leave some offerings. Also, eat bright green dumplings that taste of grass. I casually entertained the idea of flying to Australia to see where mom's ashes were buried.
Work had other plans. My boss is milking my contract to the limit and making me stay on till next Tuesday, even though he won't even be in the country on my last day, and he knows full well that i would have resigned 3 days earlier if he hadn't preempted it with his emergency "happy" hour. I signalled my availability to one of the future employer potentials for interviewing on Friday, so i spent 3 hours on video chats discussing distributed system architecture while my neighbors swept tombs.
In reality, they probably just played computer games, watched short videos and ordered in. Public holidays in Shenzhen mean a day off work and little else.
Whatever. I interviewed on my holiday so this morning i ordered in. I decided to go full-blown Hong Kong comfort food. I rarely eat Cantonese because it is relatively bland and has lots of meat in it, but today i wanted to spoil myself. I got those little deep fried spring rolls that people in the west consider a Chinese staple but hardly anybody in mainland China actually eats. I got some little baozi with shiitake and bok choy. I got a char siu (pork) bun. And i got a big bowl of bubble joe.
It was delicious.
I am downloading NXT Takeover New York and will watch that tonight. I will cook my own vegan dinner and drink ice honey oolong.
On Wednesday i will be a free agent.
I hope that next week i will get a job offer from the place i had the second round of interviews with yesterday. If i don't, i will take a week break. If i do, i will still take a week break.
Eat zhou. Climb mountain. Grieve.
And then decide what's next.