The Local Price

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So I was walking to the store today to get some bay leaves, and I decided to stop at a place on the way to get a xianr bing.  Yum.  Right when I got there, an american girl stepped in front of me and ordered for her two friends, also american, standing all tall and arm-in-arm, and a little off to the side.

So the girl at the counter asks the xianr bing dude for two, and american dude off to the side says in English, “we’re going to die,” obviously fearing death by delicious pastry.  The girl says “we’re not going to die” and hands xianr bing guy five kuai.  He hesitates, and then she hesitates, and asks in Chinese, “Is there something more?” 

Yes, he says, it’s six kuai for two.  She gives him another kuai and they’re on their way. 

So then I step up,put three kuai on the glass and say, I want one.  The guy starts getting me two, and says “one what?”  a little confused. 

One of those, I said, pointing to the same xianr bing that the three american kids just bought.  He took two of my coins and left one on the counter, then finding me 30 cents.  They’re only one kuai seventy. 


Did I miss something?  Or did I just get a local price? 

I ate it as I walked up the street.  It’s a flakey baked pastry stuffed with cabbage, sprouts, and pork, flavored with black pepper and sichuan peppercorn, which is a bright sour citrusy taste that makes your mouth numb.  They should call it a “numbberry.” 


On they way back, I saw a guy selling puffed rice, puffed corn, a bunch of puffy stuff that come from a factory, right?  Well, he was turning a black, iron torpedo over a fire in the street, and as I was walking by, he put the pipe end onto a safety holder, stepped on it with his shoe, pulling handle and bracing himself for…PAFF!  The steam that was under pressure in the torpedo had escaped iwth the sound of a rifle going off, and now the steam was all around him. 

So that’s how you make puffy snacks. 

I kept walking. 

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