Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lunchtime in China

Lunch is always by 12:00 noon to around 1:00.  Not 1:30, not 2:00, always around noon.

     Sometimes if I am shopping during lunchtime, the counter person might be eating lunch.  Instead of sandwiches or chips, they might have fruit or a cup of instant noodles.  I rarely see anyone eating a sandwich, but I think that might be changing.  Subway sandwiches are starting to gain in popularity.
     But the most popular meal is a boxed lunch or Asian-style bento.  Always rice, stewed vegetables, small portion of meat or fish cake, and maybe a hard-boiled egg.  Vendors on bicycles with a trailer attached haul stacks and stacks of pre-packed box lunches to construction areas, subway stations and residence apartment complexes.  Boxed lunches are also sold at convenience stores and markets.  Pre-made lunches are very inexpensive - around ¥12 - ¥18 - which is about $2.00 - $2.50.
     We live near the Shanghai Expo Center.  When an event is scheduled, there is a ton of construction   beforehand.  Trucks line the streets and workers are everywhere, lots of deliveries of set pieces, furniture, scaffolds, merchandise, etc.  But at noon, all business stops.  The construction workers, truck drivers, gate guards, etc., line the streets and eat lunch.  In China, it is standard for workers to have a hot lunch.  The streets are lined with food vendors, each offering different selections.  They cook on gas grills or burners on the back of motorcycle carts and make-shift tables.  They provide a variety of items, and each vendor has a specialty.  The workers pick the meal items they want, then sit on the curbs, or on their hard-hats, or in their vehicles and silently eat.  Then, they all smoke.

Yesterday it was raining, but no problem.  Vendors covered their soup pots with plastic tarps, people ate huddled under umbrellas, they even took turns holding boards over each other so the rain didn't get on their plate.

Nothing interrupts lunch.

everyone leaves their trash
sittin'.  eatin'
cleaning up after everyone
dining on unloaded furniture
wok cooking
delivery crate as table
making a box lunch
don't rain on my food
hurry up and eat so you can hold the board
fish trash
lemme squeeze in

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