The next day, the river snails still smelled earthy, but it was slightly better than before.
I need to point out that I used the local spring water here in Guangxi, which had a delicate fragrance. It was only a few days after I came here that I began smelling this fragrance. There was no way to classify this fragrance into any kind of category, but it was definitely a fragrance unique to water. My nose, however, wasn’t very good. Fatty said that what I was smelling was a phantom smell.
I later found out that he was right, because even when I touched the spring water with my hands, I could still smell it.
I realized that this was an olfactory reflex caused by the temperature of the spring water. Maybe because my nose didn’t work for a long time, my body began developing the ability to compensate, thus allowing me to pick up smells through touch.
I also heard from Black Glasses that at some point, he didn’t even need to use his eyes to see anything. This kind of “seeing” was different from what he saw with his eyes because it was more like “seeing” based on feeling.
Maybe we didn’t need our eyes, noses, lips, tongues, or ears after all. Poker-Face also told me that when his body temperature rose to a certain level, it was actually difficult to tell whether he was fighting with his eyes or not. At that moment, it was like all of his cells could see the opponent.
So, I spent the whole morning by the stream, trying to smell the various scents with my skin and playing around for about three or four hours.
When noon rolled around, I could only eat last night’s chicken since the river snails still stunk. In fact, the essence of the chicken was all in the soup, which had already been eaten, so the savory taste of the chicken was very plain now. I had also soaked the chicken in wine last night, which meant that I couldn’t eat it all. But Fatty said that it shouldn’t be wasted, so he dumped a big thing of lard directly into a pan, cut the chicken into strips, and fried it. After that was done, he fried some dried mushrooms from Agui’s house until they were all crispy, wrapped them in mango skins, and dipped them in hot pepper sauce.
The meal turned out to be delicious, but I had diarrhea until four in the morning.
On the third day, the river snails gradually began to smell like spring water. We immediately went next door to buy pork, cut it until it was minced up, and then carefully checked the river snails to confirm that there were no problems. Once that was done, we picked out the ones with strong shell openings, dug out the meat, removed the tails, and cut them into four pieces.
Next, we poured a big jug of white wine into the water to blanch the snail meat. This bowl of diced snail meat was then mixed with the minced pork and chopped green onions and soaked in ginger juice that had been squeezed from old ginger. After letting it all soak for a while, we rolled the meat into balls one by one and stuffed them back into the snail shells.
Fatty then seasoned the pan, grabbed a spoon, and put green onions, ginger, garlic, and a lot of oil into the pan. Once the oil was heated up, he began stir-frying the snails. Then he braised them. In keeping with our recent tastes, Fatty kept a handful of dried chilies next to the stove, which he tossed directly into the pan as soon as the aroma of cooked meat started filling the air.
This was an awesome idea.
I nervously waited outside with my bowl of rice. When Fatty brought the dish out and put it on the table, a special aroma filled my nostrils. I immediately picked up a snail shell, opened my mouth wide, and sucked. The braised liquid and pork/snail meat combo entered my mouth at the same time. As I started chewing, the flavor of the refreshing snail meat sandwiched between the pork fat and wrapped in the extremely delicious braised liquid filled my whole mouth.
I immediately took a big mouthful of rice and gave Fatty a high five.
Poker-Face’s chopsticks were very steady as he picked a snail up, held it in the air for careful observation as if he were studying it, and then finally put it in his mouth.
His expression remained the same, but after he finished eating it, he immediately picked up a second one.
Although I felt the joy of success, I had to admit that compared with yesterday’s crab dish, this snail dish still lost. I didn’t know why, but there was just something about eating river snails that gave one a sense of joy of a simple harvest. Maybe it was because they came straight from the fields.
That night, my mood finally returned to the calm I felt before we left Rain Village. Sure enough, I couldn’t regard just any place as my own safe haven. Rain Village was unique.
At around nine o’clock in the evening, the legal daily broadcast program reported on the cult case. We sat on the bench in the yard and watched the program. The leader of the cult kept stressing to the Vietnamese media that although they were liars, the devil really did exist.
They also showed a picture of what this devil looked like. I glanced at Poker-Face, but the devil’s appearance was so poorly drawn that I couldn’t tell what it really was.
Believers of this sect still existed in Vietnam, and many cases were reported on the program. Some people even said that their experience of going to the underworld had to be true, because some of their secrets weren’t known to others. Fatty patted Agui and told him not to believe in it anymore.
I was so full from eating that I found a lounge chair in the yard, lay down, and fell asleep. Poker-Face had been lying in the chair before, so I figured there shouldn’t be any mosquitoes around to bug me.
I had a dream that we went to Hainan and saw a temple there. In the temple, there was a Fei Kun statue and an immortal general, who looked like Pan Zi. There were many vacant shrines next to the Fei Kun statue. A fat little acolyte in charge of incense in the temple told me that all the immortals had gone out to handle business. When they came back, all those vacant shrines would be filled.
<Chapter 40><Table of Contents><Chapter 42>
Pic added 1/31/2023 (fan translation courtesy of me)
4 thoughts on “Chapter 41 Traveling Notes”
Seriously, my mouth is watering when I read the food description even if I don’t like snails (never tried them and never will)
I don’t know why but this chapter made me smile like a fool all the time ❤️
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I need to eat these things. 😞 Why do they have to sound so good? Is the writing mirroring the author’s life? Is he experimenting with cooking and torturing us with the awesome food he’s making?
I love the second Pan Zi reference, and that he’s still a general. And that side glance at Poker-Face to see if he’d give away his secrets. And Wu Xie picking Poker-Face’s vacant chair so the bugs would stay away! 😂 All in all a heartwarming chapter.
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Exactly what I was thinking. He deliberately chose that chair to be next to him, but then pretends that he noticed his presence after sitting down and I can imagine his disappointed face after seeing that poor design. 😄
Whenever he talking about foods, I also think either the author like to taste these foods but cannot eat them, or he has eaten those foods and describing them.
I think he was not alone in the dream this time because Xiao Ge was by his side.