SmartBeijing asked Kendra to write a regular column about being a vegetarian in Beijing -- nice places to get a meat-free dinner, ideas for homemade meals, tips for other vegetarians, that sort of thing. She only agreed to do it if she was approved to take wild and unedited forays into non-veggie-related smut and depravity. And say the word "vagina" a lot.
Huzzah! Here's "The Vagitarian".
“Dinner? I can’t. I’m cosmically obligated to go to this,” I said, holding up the Lit Fest flier.
“There’s a lecture at the Bookworm by the 'Stephen Hawking of Sex’.”
“Jesus, what does that even mean?” said Mr. Vagitarian, putting a finger to his throat and doing robot voice.
“T-H-A-T’S S-O H-O-T. I H-A-V-E A B-O-N-E-R.”
Mr. Faramerz Dabhoiwala, professor of history at Oxford and author of the The Origins of Sex, was rocking neither erection nor assistive technology (wah wah waaaaaaahhh), but his talk on Europe’s first sexual revolution was a snappy reminder that learning about the nasty is at least as much an academic exercise as a practical one. Maybe, I think to myself, it’s time to shelve the pineapple lube taste tests for a few minutes and read a goddamn book.
The whole thing was a little more buttoned-up than I wanted, but it had its moments: I wondered if they’d told the translator she’d be recounting historical anecdotes about middle-aged Scottish villagers circle-jerking into a brass bowl circa 1742.
The Origins of Sex plunges into the major change in 17th century Europe’s sexual attitudes, exploring the collective social transition from publicly whipping consenting adults for premarital boning, to a re-imagining of God’s approval for humanity’s most natural act.
He made pussy, and pussy must, it follows, be good.
The Bookworm’s got the just-released Chinese language version, so head over there if you’d like to snag it in hard copy, but if 400-something pages of Parisian aristocrats having scandalous dalliances in powdered wigs isn’t your teabag, check this instead: this February saw the release of Little Emperors and Material Girls, Jemimah Steinfield’s plunge into the sex toys, dating agencies, marriage markets, and Taobao boyfriends of modern China’s sexual milieu.
If you’ve been in China for a couple of years and you feel like you’ve already reached peak levels of shrug-it-off, unflappable cynicism, then this read is gonna be the sanitized Shunyi to your brain’s dirty Dongcheng. It’ll be like, wow, yeah, Taobao boyfriends, shocking. Still, if your mom is into gender studies or your friends back home are sino-curious, this is a thing you should buy them.
Also, someone please name a shot “the Dirty Dongcheng”. You’re welcome.
Anyhoo: food. A couple of months ago, SMBJ’s very own Josh Feola drew my attention to a Chinese Kickstarter-style campaign on dreamore.com by vegetarian advocacy group Veg Planet. The project, Beijing Vegetarian Map, is a bad-ass illustrated watercolor guide to all of Beijing’s vegetarian restaurants, including some far-flung, way-out-past-5th Ring locations I’ve yet to visit, and a couple of vegan pizza places I’d never even heard of.
If you’re looking for the de-facto Beijing restaurant map for meat-free eating, this list is your Bible.
The fundraising portion of the campaign is a wrap and it’s been funded nearly three times over, blowing past the original goal of 20,000rmb for a final count of 55,750rmb, and the map is ready for distro.
You can grab it in digital list form by following the creator’s official Weixin account @AlinaVege, or you can head over to Taobao to purchase a print copy for 15rmb.
The map does cover all the meat-free restos (did I mention there’s a vegetarian noodle restaurant in Jianwai SOHO? Well, there is.), but it doesn’t stick any fingers into vegetarian and vegan supply stores, so here’s a spring season tip for picking up some recipe ingredients:
I very accidentally barged into东北保鲜杂粮大全 (Dongbei Baoxian Zaliang Daquan), a Dongcheng farm-to-store outpost for bulk dry-good grains. DBZD has a pretty serious selection of dried legumes and rarer flours, some of which I’ve been unable to find even at specialty markets like Sanyuanli. Example: a bag of straight-up black eyed peas. Black eyed peas, man! I’m two handfuls of collard greens away from a vegan Southern American brunch.
These guys are also sitting on fridges full of pearl barley, quinoa, dried kidney beans, black rice flour, and a host of other veggie diet staples that are rough to track down inside the Second. Find them at 19-2 Dongzhimen Nanxiaojie (东直门南小街19-2), and if your lazy ass needs a bag of couscous and can’t be bothered to zip up your fly, call 84017569. They deliver.
Till next time.