It was a dreary, rainy day and we were sitting in a taxi that was stuck in traffic on the way to the Shanghai airport. A car breakdown had caused the traffic to flow to the pace of a toddler. As the minutes ticked by we worried that we would miss our flight to Hong Kong. The gray mist outside had reduced visibility to about twenty feet, so there wasn’t much scenery to distract us.
Our taxi had a TV screen perched behind the front passenger seat headrest. Like every TV screen the world over that is hanging in an unlikely spot, it was showing non-stop commercials. This must have been a deluxe screen—we could change channels to watch the commercials of our choice. After a few minutes of fiddling, Michael managed to figure out how to turn off the volume. (Oh, if he had such a switch sometimes. . .)
We were doing our best to ignore the constant barrage of product placement assaulting our senses in the back of our small taxi, but eventually the lack of scenery outside had our eyes drifting to that little screen. (I hate to admit it but those marketers who put ads in the back seats of taxis might be on to something.) A colorful ad appeared showing a little Chinese boy happily spooning something neon green-colored into his mouth.
It turns out it was a kiwifruit. Eaten with a spoon? I had only ever seen them peeled and sliced. Back in the states in recent years they have been maligned, not for their taste, but because they have become the garnish that chefs have overused to decorate foods that were otherwise uninspired. Kiwis have become the Generation X version of parsley.
But here in China they were simply slicing them in half and scooping out the juicy green pulp, “a la grapefruit.” It looked so simple—no slippery peeling, no pretension. For all we know this is how everyone eats kiwi and we’re the last ones on the planet to figure it out, but it was new to us. We resolved to try this method the first chance we had.
Shortly after we arrived in Hong Kong we were shopping in a local market to stock the kitchen of our rental apartment. Right in the middle of the produce aisle was a large display of Zespri brand kiwifruit—the company whose advertisement we had seen in the Shanghai taxi. (It turns out Zespri of New Zealand is the Chiquita of kiwifruit—who knew?) We purchased a few and within minutes of getting back to our flat had sliced our kiwis and were scooping to our heart’s content. Yummy! A new addition to our list of quick and healthful snacks.
We certainly never expected to learn a food tip while stuck in traffic, but this is just one example of how travel can broaden your horizons—especially when you open your eyes and ears to the possibilities that travel brings. Even in the back of a Shanghai taxi on a rainy day.