Wait wait wait… we’re supposed to *spit out* the exoskeleton?

This Chinese seafood buffet lunch party was already getting out of hand…

silkworm chrysalis
Silkworm chrysalis (蚕蛹), a common BBQ option in Qingdao, China.

…when I noticed that the guy I was eating silkworm chrysalises with was spitting out the exoskeletons — like they were watermelon seeds or something. According to him and another friend I asked later at a different event, most people don’t swallow the exoskeletons of these big ones (the small ones, apparently, everyone just crunches down.)

The next day at the gym one of the trainers brought it up because he’d seen my Weixin post. So I told him how this other guy said most people spit out the shells, and both the trainer and the woman he was coaching replied, “No! We always eat the shells! The shells are good!”

Either way, I wish I’d known the exoskeletons were optional the first time we ate these — these take a long time to chew! And the whole time you’re thinking: “There’s a big squishy bug in my mouth… I’m chewing a big squishy bug in my mouth… I’m chewing a big squishy bug in my mouth and I can feel it… I’m chewing a big squishy bug in my mouth and I can feel it and I’m gonna swallow it…” (But no one thinks to tell the lǎowài these kinds of things…)

seafood plate

Starfish, dog, and pretty much whatever else, I can eat without thinking about it. Except the silkworms-on-a-stick — those still take some mental effort.

Chinese taxi drivers wield dual smart phones

This is a common sight in Qingdao taxis, drivers using two smart phones simultaneously, each running a different taxi app (打车 and 嘀嘀打车):
dual phones Chinese taxi
It’s also not uncommon for them to both be broadcasting each new potential fare, both dinging and announcing destinations aloud over top of each other throughout your entire ride. But generally speaking, Chinese tolerance for noise pollution is higher than ours.

The Berenstain Bears & their Chinese Neighbours

Of course we have a bunch of Berenstain Bears books, which are full of quaint life lessons (Bully trouble at school? Learn self-defense and punch her in the face!), and feature the usually-wrong-but-never-in-doubt clueless man-child dad trope, which had a satirical purpose once a upon time in a galaxy far far away, as the foil for the unfailingly patient and composed Mama Bear, who gently directs the show from backstage with an endless reservoir of commonsense wisdom, propriety, and savvy wifely interventions. Still, we loved them as kids and our kids love them now (though I did permanently shelve one of the religious ones).

Turns out there are tons of new ones (“new” as in, written after I graduated from primary school, once upon a time in a galaxy far far etc.), and our Chinese preschool library even has some. This one would have made me laugh even if we’d never moved to China but it’s extra funny here, where we’re the foreign neighbours. The Bear family gets some Chinese Panda neighbours! And apparently Papa Bear has gone from picnic spots to prejudice!

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 0
So suspicious Papa Bear! Just because they’re short and their fur is different and they like to wear matching outfits… don’t you know that’s just how they do in China Pandaland?

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 02
“What do they think they’re doing? They’re not actually moving in, are they??”

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 03
“Putting up a fence? Who puts up a fence?? Bad people who have something to hide, that’s who!”

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 04
Well, thank goodness for bamboo juice and travel stories. (Just nobody tell Papa that pandas aren’t actually bears…)

Here’s some fun we’ve had as the foreign neighbours in China:

How to scandalize your Chinese neighbours: Evil stepmother edition