Tonight my new friend Anna (a student from Russia) and I took a taxi to "Koreatown"—the local Korean community here in Shenyang—and ate at a nice Korean restaurant. We were required to take off our shoes and crawl into a cozy booth, where the waitress brought us a number of seafood dishes, most of it raw and, in the case of the shrimp, very much still alive. When the waitress leaned over to give us a plateful of them, one of the shrimp—as long as a pencil, like the picture above—jumped off and landed near my lap. The waitress quickly picked it up and went back to obtain a new one (for sanitary reasons, I guess) and then set four of them on the table.
After sampling some of the fish, Anna demonstrated for me how to eat the shrimp: she picked one up by the head, dipped it in sauce, and then bit down on its body, leaving the still-active head on her plate. Trying not to think too much about what I was doing, I quickly followed suit, crunching down hard on the body and feeling its wriggling legs in my mouth as I chewed. The first shrimp’s head took the ordeal rather calmly, although the second one became frantic after I disembodied it and began to wriggle furiously in my chopsticks. After setting it down on my plate, the head probably didn’t stop moving until after a good five minutes. Needless to say, the experience is something I’ll never forget.
Overall, it was nice to spend time with someone who is a foreigner like me, although Anna is fluent in Chinese (unlike me) and has been in the city for about a year now, so she is considerably more adjusted to living here than I am. While talking I discovered she plays guitar, and she even invited me to play the one she brought with her to Shenyang, so it looks like I’ll be able to keep my calluses from softening too much over the next year (one of my primary concerns upon leaving home). She’s also going to help me find a music store in the area where I can purchase one for myself. Here’s hoping—my fingertips are already craving the feel of those strings!