Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paint, Thinner and Vanilla

Bill Brown ... Xiamen University

When we came to Xiamen in 1988, it took me weeks to learn that nutmeg (ròudòukòu, 肉豆蔻) and cinnamon (ròuguì, 肉桂) were sold only in Chinese medicine stores. Better yet, vanilla (xiāngcǎojīng 香草精) was sold only in paint stores! I asked why, and was told, by many Chinese, that paint, vanilla and thinner should be sold together because they are all chemicals.

Maybe theyre right. Peacock Brand Vanilla smelled like paint thinner, and when I put a match to a spoon of vanilla it exploded. After that I didnt buy any more vanilla from paint stores. Id already lost a lot of weight my first few months here and I didnt need any thinner.

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