Back home in Northern Virginia, when I needed to pull together a quick, healthy dinner, I used to run into Wegmans (oh, how I miss that store) and pick up pre-washed bagged mixed lettuce, cut baby carrots, sprouts and other fabulous little items, which I tossed in a bowl with some oil and vinegar. Throw on some shredded cheese and a can of rinsed beans and voila! Dinner. For a particularly big dinner-in-a-hurry, you could also microwave a frozen veggie burger (oh, and p.s. – as long as you’re at Wegman’s why not just pick up some sushi for lunch?).
Here in Beijing, the recipe is a bit different:
Step one: Buy spinach. Soak it in sink with vegetable cleaner (some people prefer to use a bleach solution, but the idea of eating bleached vegetables sort of disgusts me). Drain water. Repeat several times until all dirt is washed off. Drip dry or dry with dishtowel. Pick off and discard large stems. Place in bowl.
Step two: Buy carrots. Be sure they aren’t too soft, or too big, or too full of holes (hard to discern, as they’re pulled from the earth and placed in a bin at the store, still caked in dirt). Soak in soap solution as above. Scrub with vegetable brush. Peel. Cut off and discard funky top and bottom. Cut into strips, being careful not to injure self on dull knife (Back home, I always waited until my dad visited so he could sharpen the knives for me).
Step three: Repeat steps one and two with any other desired vegetables – that is, if you’re not already starving.
Step four: Shred cheese yourself – do you really want to pay extra for those little bags of pre-shredded mozzarella from the States?
Step five: Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. But don’t overdo it: oil here is so expensive you should be able to fill your car with it: a medium-sized bottle of canola oil is almost $10.
Step six: What’s that you said? You want a veggie burger, too? No problem at all… just give me an hour to make some FROM SCRATCH.
Step seven: Voila! Dinner is served. Two and a half hours after you started.
Recipe note: You might want to consider skipping steps 1 – 7 and ordering pizza instead.