vrijdag 30 maart 2012

3. Chinatown on the roof of the Duomo

Me, Daisy and...
the mysterious bottle!
Yesterday I have visited the inside of the Duomo and today my to-do list tells me I have to climb on the roof of this giant building. Why? To touch the sky with my finger (I only read what is written in my guide) and admire the hundreds of statues which proudly decorate this huge cathedral. My beloved fianc√© has a couple of hours free this morning so we decide to climb the 250 steps to the roof of Milan together. Once we finally arrive there, we are deeply impressed by the marvelous view. The unique and meditative silence, which the guide book had promised us, unfortunately isn’t available today because one of the luxurious restaurants on the roof of the Rinascente in front of us is so generous to let us enjoy their cheerful background music (all for free!). With my finger ultra ready for the job, I start looking for the best spot to touch the sky and to be photographed during this historical moment of me taking the third step to Milaneseness.

I find this spot in the middle of the most central roof terrace of the Duomo where I see the beginning of some pillar (they probably forgot to finish it) ideal for posing between elegant spires and other architectural beauty. Unfortunately the other visitors also seem to have found it which doesn’t make it easy for Alessandro to take a picture of me without some unknown tourist standing by my side. Especially Chinese Duomo climbers take their time to finish their photo reportages and get on the nerves of my sweet husband to-be who is cursing already for half an hour because some Chinese girl just doesn’t want to step out of the picture. I patiently examine the Asian model when suddenly I see something strange dangling at her backpack. I run towards Alessandro, pull the camera out of his hands and start my own photo reportage of the girl and her odd appendix. I’m talking about a bottle of water filled with strange roots or stems or something. As a fresh Master in Food Culture the thing intrigues me and so I have to find out what it is. I walk up to Daisy, because that’s how the girl is called, and interrogate her about the curious bottle she is carrying with her. She reveals me that it’s a combination of three different types of root which make her fizz of energy all day long! Given the fact that I can use some extra energy myself this year (I still have 98 Milanese tasks to execute, remember!), I ask her if she would be so kind to write their names down for me. Daisy is happy to do so but she is not sure whether I’ll be able to find the ingredients in Italy. She explains me that she brought all the roots directly from China.

But Nathalie Stevens wouldn’t be Nathalie Stevens if she wouldn’t find a solution for this tiny little problem! 5 minutes later I’m back down in front of the Duomo on my way to Milano’s Chinatown, that’s to say Via Sarpi and surroundings. Once I arrive there with my travel guide full of Chinese symbols, I enter the first Chinese grocery shop that I can find and ask for some Mai Dong, Shen Xu and Huang Qi, please. The lady at the counter looks at me in a strange way and tells me that she doesn’t sell this kind of things and that I have to go to a Chinese pharmacy. There are two of them in Via Messina, she says. I haven’t got the faintest idea where to find Via Messina and the lady’s broken Italian is too crumbly to make me any wiser, so I just decide to keep on walking in the colorful, Chinese neighborhood and give it a second try somewhere else. Not a bad idea, apparently, because after a quarter of an hour, I find this friendly tofu lady who sends me to Doctor Wen Wei Hua.

Doctor W. has a Chinese herb shop and laughs loud when I show him the symbols Daisy wrote down for me. He explains me that Daisy’s word for the Shen Xu root doesn’t simply indicate the well-known Gin Sheng root (that would have been easy) but the unfindable little beardy hairs on the roots of this root! Doctor W. doesn’t sell ingredients of that level of detail – and he doubts anyone else in Chinatown does – but he says that according to him the cocktail will definitely be as effective if I just use some ordinary slices of Gin Sheng. He explains me that I have to boil 10 grams of Mai Dong and 20 grams of Huang Qi for about an hour and that I have to add the slices of Shen Xu only at the end. Happy as a child, I walk out of the shop of my new Chinese herb dealer. Tomorrow I’ll brew my magical energy potion and work myself through my to-do list number 4 like a real Speedy Gonzales! Be ready, folks!

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Nathalie your writing is delightful! I enjoy seeing Milano in a new light through your eyes and the chuckles you create that fill me with joy.

  2. I am grateful Nathalie Stevens is the way she is--searcher of all food mysteries. It led us all to Chinatown in Milan--you will be able to create your own list of behind the scenes in Milan. Doug and I can hear your voice so easily in these blogs. Great fun!