Chengguan cracksdown on vegetables and chickens, ignores panties

I know everyone wants to talk about North Korea’s nukes and bird flu, but here’s the big news from our neighbourhood today: a legion of chengguan 城管 showed up to crackdown on vegetable gardens and backyard chicken coups, as was warned about in notices stuck on all the gates a few days ago.

My hunch is the neighbourhood management saw an opportunity in the bird flu situation and took it. The story is this was a village ten years ago and the villagers were compensated with apartment square meterage matching that of their village homes, end result being that this neighbuorhood has a higher percentage of peasants than the average urban development.

Anyway, the chengguan were right outside our windows around 11:15 this morning:

I was at work and Jessica took this out the kitchen window. She said about 30 people in all.

They’re cracking down on domestic chicken coups and vegetable gardens like these:

The notice said it was OK to plant trees and flowers, but not vegetables. Panties weren’t mentioned.

I took a quick spin around the neighbourhood before lunch while out getting eggs. There are vegetable gardens all over the place, but I didn’t see evidence of any being disturbed. Maybe they’re saving their bylaw enforcement for after 休息, and this morning was just recon?

More fun with Chengguan:

A day in the life… of a Chinese street vendor

Foreigners and locals in China both routinely but superficially interact with street vendors. One young researcher spent a few days with a street vendor family and wrote about it here, giving us a more intimate look at the lifestyle, struggles with the authorities, and living conditions of China’s street market migrants: Street Vendor Life in China

You can read about a similar project here: Thirty Days in a Fuzhou Barbershop

For more about street market migrants and the chéngguǎn (bylaw enforcement thugs), see: The Tianjin Chengguan Street Market Game and Making our neighbourhood more “civilized”

In case you ever wondered what it’s like to eat BBQ’d silk worm larvae (蚕蛹)

The carapace is tough but flexible. Biting down causes hot mush to burst out into your mouth. Two more chews and two squirts later it’s finally empty. You manage to down the bug guts in two or three swallows, but the outer shell is the challenging part. It takes a lot of chewing, and the thought of sliding it to the back of your mouth in order to swallow makes you wonder if you’ll gag. Your choice: try to swallow all of it quickly in one go and risk gagging, or chew and chew and chew, swallowing little shredded pieces of it at a time, prolonging the experience. You take the second option, feeling each piece of the exoskeleton slime across the back of your tongue and down your throat. Thankfully it doesn’t have much taste. And without legs and wings, it’s easier to eat than that giant cockroach in Thailand.

You can see more info and pictures of silk worm chrysalis (蚕蛹) here. I heard separately from friends and students that one of these things has the equivalent protein of three eggs.

We love this sidewalk BBQ place because of the 热闹 atmosphere. The wide sidewalks are usually filled with folding tables and stools and diners. This night we had to walk through the kitchen and eat in the back alley because three chéngguǎn were charged with doing nothing but standing on the opposite sidewalk from the afternoon until 12:30am to make sure none of these restaurants put out their tables! I went and complained to them. They were friendly, and said they had to manage that particular road (the restaurant is on the corner of a T-intersection). The other road, literally around the corner in plain view, had tables and stools and the usual illegal street vendors, but these three guys were only watching these particular restaurants on this particular road. All they did was stand there, for hours, looking at the opposite sidewalk. That’s how things work here. They’re the ones that said, Don’t worry, you can eat outside in the back alley.

The blurry, non-flash-or-tripod photo above on the right shows the true colours and lighting and warmth.

To put things in perspective, this place also offers giant (giant!) white snails, bullfrogs, the usual assorted animal organs, and… wait for it… sheep penis on a stick. So all things considered, silk worm larvae are not so far out of one’s comfort zone.

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