Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year Holiday in Xiapu

I spent the last day of 2016 in a more urban area of Xiapu, a county with many fishing villages in Fujian, China. Not only did I think a bit about the past year, but I was also reminded of 2015 and the Year of the Yang.

2015 and Year of the Yang celebration arch in Xiapu, Fujian.

I walked through the historical arch and down a semi-pedestrian street. Soon I walked through a similar, though more faded, arch.

2015 and Year of the Yang celebration arch in Xiapu, Fujian.

No matter how great and arch-worthy 2015 or the Year of the Yang may have been, 2017 was coming regardless. After 11 p.m. I went out again to see a bit of what was happening in Xiapu.

During my walk, I saw a music club with a New Year celebration.

music club in Xiapu, Fujian

I walked in and saw a typical Chinese club scene packed with younger people.

After a couple of minutes, I was back out on the street. Soon, I heard fireworks exploding not too far away. I wondered if more time had passed than I had thought, but I saw it was still 10 minutes before midnight. Perhaps some people were really eager to put 2016 behind them.

More fireworks exploded around midnight. To my surprise, some launched just a few feet away from me. After retreating to a slightly safer distance, I enjoyed the scene.

fireworks launching from a street in Xiapu, Fujian

fireworks exploding in Xiapu, Fujian

Good times and I didn't nearly lose an eye (a Shanghai Lunar New Year story there for another day).

Soon things were much quieter, and only a few signs remained of the festivities.

The area I had wandered to had a number of late night seafood restaurants, most with outdoor tent areas. I figured I would take advantage of the situation, and chose a place based on being a bit busier and having a charming Pabst Blue Ribbon sign.

seafood restaurant in Xiapu, Fujian

After looking at a long table of various uncooked items, I chose two, one of which I had not eaten before.

Before sitting down, I noticed the kitchen was mostly open to view, so I checked it out.

kitchen at Xinmeiweiyuan Restaurant in Xiapu, China

They looked like they had everything under control. I sat down and while waiting for my food drank not a Pabst Blue Ribbon but a Chinese beer I don't so often come across: Dry & Dry.

tall can of Dry & Dry beer

Soon, my dishes had arrived. One was a lot of tiny snails.

snail dish in Xiapu, China

They were all in tiny shells which slow down the eating process. But the snails came out easily, and the sauce was delicious.

The other dish was worms, of course.

a dish of worms — 土強 (tuqiang) — at a restaurant in Xiapu, Fujian

When I first asked I was told they were sand worms (沙虫). But they didn't look like the sand worms I had eaten before, most often in Guangxi. I was then told they weren't really sand worms, but there was only a local word for them that they insisted would not be familiar to people elsewhere in China, even if said in Standard Mandarin and not the local dialect. I was told this unfamiliar-to-most name is 土強 (tuqiang). I have no idea if they have a name in English.

They were surprisingly crunchy and tough on the outside and slightly gooey inside. I far prefer the less crunchier sand worms or the mud worms I have only seen in Zhanjiang to the south. Still, it was fun to try something new to start the new year.

Happy New Year to all, whether worms are involved or not.

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