THE EGG-PAN­CAKE WRAP THINGY

That's China - - 城市漫步 - Text by / David Kay

You know the drill: it’s break­fast time again and your greasy cup­boards are, as al­ways, de­press­ingly empty.You don’t re­ally feel like a baozi be­cause you had one of those yes­ter­day. So…what then? De­ter­mined to avoid get­ting a yet an­other luke­warm McDon­ald sausage McMuf­fin de­liv­ered into your gap­ing cake-hole you de­cide to hit the streets in search of sus­te­nance, spice, sausage and any other ’S’ words that can be clum­sily shoe-horned into this sen­tence.Then, in a mo­ment of di­vine in­spi­ra­tion, you re­mem­ber that portly guy dressed in a pu­trid yel­low smock who makes that eggy slop on the cor­ner of you block. Nor­mally you pass by the guy in a show of de­plorable laowai snooti­ness, but to­day you fig­ured you may as well give his wares a sam­ple. I mean, what’s the worse that could hap­pen…? It’s a fa­mil­iar tale I’m sure, and one that - for me at least - al­ways ends in, if not ex­actly ec­stasy, then at least a sense of vague con­tent­ment and a rea­son­ably full belly.Yes, as it turns out, that the Man in Yel­low can ac­tu­ally knock up a pretty de­cent egg-pan­cake wrap thingy in spite of his lim­ited re­sources and fairly grim look­ing street-side ‘workspace’. First he spreads a hearty dol­lop of doughy gloop onto his cir­cu­lar hot-plate and com­mences to ex­pertly spread said gloop into a pleas­ingly gloopy moon-like cir­cle. Next comes the egg, the dish’s cen­tre­piece, which he cracks in the mid­dle of the quickly hard­en­ing gloop (like a boss) and does his magic-cir­cle-mak­ing trick again.With the ba­sics out of the way the man then con­cen­trates on the gar­nish, which comes in the form of some salty pick­led veg­eta­bles and some of that le­gendary pow­der that no self-re­spect­ing street ven­dor can pos­si­bly live with­out. “La bu la?!” Egg Man shouts in my gen­eral di­rec­tion. “Lade!” I re­spond tri­umphantly - ‘cause I like my break­fast to have some kick, you feel me? Ac­cord­ingly the Egg Man pro­ceeds with the spicy sauce adding cer­e­mony, which I wit­ness with the re­spect and rev­er­ence this spec­ta­cle de­mands. The ic­ing on the cake, or the sausage on the egg as the case may be, is ei­ther an in­ex­pli­ca­bly donuty stick (no thanks) or one of those 1RMB sausages that you strangely de­velop a taste for the longer you live in China, re­gard­less of the fact that you ac­knowl­edge their in­her­ent filth­i­ness. Opt­ing for the sausage , my egg-pan­cake wrap thingy was dumped bru­tally into a tiny plas­tic bag and, af­ter hand­ing over my 4.5RMB, it was mine to cher­ish for­ever - or for at least the 3 min­utes or so that it took me to fever­ishly de­vour it en-route to the of­fice. It may not be pretty, it may not be chic, and it may be one of the most unglam­orous snacks that the main­land has to of­fer, but if you’re in a rush, hun­gover or de­pressed, the egg-pan­cake wrap thingy may just be the break­fast you were look­ing for. Or not.

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