To be honest, during my time in New York I’ve learned more new things about the Asian culture then about the American culture. And surprisingly or not, I like this better! The cultural ‘shock’ between Europe and Asia is much bigger than the cultural differences between Europe and America. There are so many things I’ve tried here for the first time… that’s what makes it so interesting for me.
As most of you guys will know, most of my colleagues at my internship are Asian. Almost every day there is something new that I’ll learn from them that I didn’t knew before about the Asian culture. This can be anything, in the smallest ways. Like music taste, family habits, foods I’ve never heard of before or anime series that I can’t follow-up with. This is very interesting, as well for me, as for them. Sometimes I can give my ‘weird’ European opinion on some things or tell some of our habits to them.
On top of all this, I have also a Chinese roommate from Hong Kong. So when I’m home or during the weekends, she’ll show me some Chinese habits as well. Which is nice, because when I go to Chinatown on my own, I’m completely lost. When we’re at a restaurant and I can’t read anything, she will try to give me the best traditional stuff.
Speaking of Asian culture, there are a billion differences in eating habits. Most fun and common for me is of course eating with chopsticks. Which is a skill I’ll master during my stay here! Korean BBQ is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever eaten with chopsticks. But besides that I’ve tried some fish tale, frog (yes, a frog), chicken feet (yes, chicken feet), Cow Tongue, husband’s lungs (No idea what this was, I hope the English translation on the menu was wrong) and lots of rice and noodles.
My most favorite dish that I’ve tried so far is a Chinese duck noodle soup that my roommate recommended me. Apparently it is something very traditional. I’ve had Hot Pot for the first time as well. This is something like Fondue, but then with soup.
On Sunday, some of us may do a rich breakfast or brunch. Chinese people also gather together on Sunday, but for Dim Sum. I think I’ve only had it for diner before, but apparently this is not the way you do it. I had the opportunity to join them once with my colleagues. The Dim Sum restaurants are crazy, noisy and packed of people! I mostly enjoyed the basic Dim Sums, the one that looks the most familiar to me but I tried to try at least most of them once.
New York has more than one Chinatown. I’ve been to three of them so far, and these are also the only ones that I know. I’ve been to Flushing (where I had the duck noodle soup), visited Chinatown in Brooklyn several times already (Sunset park, on 8 Avenue) and then Chinatown Manhattan on Canal Street. This last one is a five-minute bike ride from my home and is also very close to the place where I work. I almost rented my room in this Chinatown, but the room was very small. The bathroom was shared between six other rooms, there was no diner table and the rent was $ 1000 / month. So I passed this very attractive offer.
There’s also a Korea town in the city. I’ve been here a few times already because it’s in the center and I always drop by the food gallery when I’m around. For a quick-lunch, cheap dinner or a Milk tea…. Which I never had before and I don’t think it exists in Belgium. But, it is so good! As long as you take one without toppings. I didn’t like any of the toppings I tried before and I don’t want to waste another Milk tea with a disgusting topping ? I’m joking, some of you may like it. I’m just not a fan of dropping pudding or bubbles in my tea. Thanks to this another name for milk tea is bubble tea. I think they are the same, otherwise I haven’t figured out the differences yet.