Category Archives: Around the world

Eating in Shanghai 2

…continued from Eating in Shanghai 1.

We went with a large group of colleagues to a pretty good dumpling place. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name. It was in yet another large mall but this time in the financial district.

It’s like kreplach, but with soup inside. How do they get the soup in there?! How!?!?
Intel bunnies at a chip factory? No: dumpling sweat shop workers. I’m into this whole extreme hygiene thing.
After over a week of starving because of my poor chopsticks skills, my coworker gifted me with these purple bunny kiddie chopsticks. I feel no shame rocking them in public.

A highlight for me throughout the trip are steamed buns. It’s a genius concept: instead of sticking bread in an oven, steam it in a little basket! Delicious.

Why doesn’t anyone steam their buns around here?

One interesting cultural difference is that on this side of the world, we remove the face of the things we eat. No such thing in China.

That face looks familiar.

Hot Pot. Kind of like Chinese fondue. I am not a fan of fondue but mostly because I don’t want to dip my food where others dip their food. Fortunately, we each got a personal hot pot so I got to awkwardly fish pieces of food out with my poor chopsticks skills for minutes without bothering anyone else. You order a bunch of food (lamb was a favorite of mine) which they bring raw. You dip, wait, take the food out, wait for it to cool down to a reasonable temperature, eat. Impatience is not your friend. I know because I got to chew a lot of half-cooked stuff and burned the roof of my mouth. The genius of the whole concept is that if you don’t like the food, you only have to blame yourself (the cook) for it!

Hot pot.
Make your own sauce.
Raw cow stomach.

Here’s something I didn’t eat: Turtle soup. I was told that if you feel sick, you should eat it. I think what they meant was: if you eat it, you will feel sick.

Turtle soup. Delicious. Allegedly.

Another pretty good drink I had: Black rice drink.

Black rice drink.

There was a little wooden duck in Ilan’s toy box for years. I finally learned what it was: a chic chopstick holder. Ironically, it eventually got decapitated and was thrown away. I say ironic because at this particular restaurant the duck is served with its head firmly in place.

We had one of those little ducks lying around the house for years and I never knew what it is for. Mystery solved.

Last, shoutout to my uncle Isi and cousin Rafa who heard I was going to be in China and flew halfway around the world to buy me dinner. Happy birthday Isi!

Isi, Rafa, Marcos.

Eating in Shanghai 1

In the time I spent in Shanghai there was a lot of eating. My colleagues at work did an amazing job taking us out to eat. Below I share a few notes from the extensive eating we did.

Only one subway stop away from the hotel was Chamtime Plaza – one of seemingly thousands of restaurant-filled shopping centers around the city. This is a big, fancy place and we probably ate at ten restaurants there. There was one that specialized in Beijing Duck, and while I’ve had that dish before in the US, it definitely doesn’t compare. I think this is the only place we went to twice, on my first and last day.

Beijing ducks and me.

 

Beijing duck

In China they use ingredients that aren’t common in western cuisine. This can be a little challenging to a visitor. Things are made worse when said visitor limits himself to ingredients that aren’t intrinsically treif. Helpfully, most menus are fully illustrated and some are even translated.

Here’s a dish that ingredient-wise I could have technically tried but I decided against:

Donkey meat burger.

The hotel had a wonderful breakfast buffet with local food but also your typically Western breakfast. So you could get seaweed salad, made-to-order Ramen, with some corn flakes; all at the same place.

Glorious breakfast buffet at OneHome hotel.
No ramen in this photo, but do notice the rice thingie filled with sweet beans.

Our hosts took us to a lot of great restaurants. When trying things on our own, we didn’t fare so well. One place that was a total success was Lost Heaven in the Bund, a Yunnan-Style restaurant in… wait for it… the Bund.

Lost Heaven In The Bund

One thing I saw in lots of convenience stores was these white glass bottles that people drank out of using a straw. I couldn’t help but be curious. It turned out to be: yogurt. Good tasting for sure, maybe not the most refreshing thing after an arduous workout.

Yogurt in a glass bottle.

The biggest challenge for me was that I suck at using chopsticks. Everyone else in the country seems not to suck at it. I could have starved, had others not felt pity for me and chopstick-fed me.

I could have not done this better myself. Really.

Honorable mention: tea. Especially milk tea. Especially matcha milk tea.

Matcha milk tea.

This post is getting too long for the limited attention span of my readers, so it will have to be continued…

Eating in Shanghai 2

Shanghai

I headed out on my first trip to China for work. This was my first flight on a 787 Dreamliner (very nice!) and my first trip to China (very far!) and the longest I have been away from my dear beautiful family (very hard!).

The legroom on an American Airlines 15 hour flight is… minimal. There was maybe an inch between my knees and the seat in front of me. Seriously.

My first impressions of the city are great. Very modern, clean, traffic is not insane. Great roads, unbelievable skyline. Excellent subway.

We stayed at the very nice Onehome Art Hotel which had everything from fake clouds, elevator music in every hallway, lots of art, a glorious  Chinese breakfast buffet…

Fake clouds
Seaweed salad for breakfast? Check. Ramen? Check. Anything you want is here.
More fake clouds. They also have weird fake bird sounds all over the place.
Creepy and artsy cell phone charging station at the hotel.

More of Shanghai in upcoming posts.

San Antonio

Back in December the Austin Kirsch family headed to San Antonio to meet the Mexico City Kirsch family. San Antonio is pretty close, so obviously I never think of going.

Highlights:

  • My beautiful nieces
  • San Antonio Zoo: Perfect for little kids. Not gigantic, but not small. Great variety of animals.
  • The DoSeum: This place makes Austin’s The Thinkery feel tiny. I didn’t even know it existed!

Conspicuously missing: Six Flags (closed), Sea World (closed), The Alamo, Riverwalk. Gotta leave something for next time.

 

Anclas para la Memoria

I took a quick trip and attended the presentation of Thelma Sandler’s new book: “Anclas para la Memoria” (“Anchors for Memory”); a compendium of scripts for theater written by Mexican writer Thelma Sandler.

The presentation was at Centro Cultural Plaza Fátima, where around 200 spectators gathered to see dramatic reading of several of the plays included in the book. It was a very nice event. I highly recommend buying the book.

The stage. On both sides: actors that participated in the reading. At center table: writer Mario Nieves, author Thelma Sandler, director Hernán Galindo.
Hired child models Bernardo and Galia deliver a bouquet to the author.
The Kirsch family posing for a photo with the writer.

Disclaimer: Author is my mom. But I paid for my copy of the book in full.

Update July 31, 2017Newspaper article about the event

Modeling career

Inspired by my handsome uncle’s debut as a male model and my cousin‘s ongoing modeling career, I recently took a small gig modeling for a Russian magazine. You can see it here (Google Translation) (PDF for when the link becomes inevitably broken).

I think this is going to be the beginning of something big. Goodbye engineering, hello exploiting my natural beauty.

Sent by Daniela K.

Arena Coliseo

I used to watch a lot of wrestling growing up. Both WWF (Hulk Hogan is my hero) and Mexican wrestling which was on TV every  Saturday night before a Mauricio Garcés movie. I even knew who the real Mil Máscaras was. And while my dad took me to a WWF event in San Antonio, I never went to the famous Arena Coliseo in Monterrey.

Until last weekend, that is. Jaco my brother, Bernardo my nephew, Eli my cousin, Ori his kid, and Danny my cousin headed to the beautiful arena for 4 hours of non-stop fake violence. And the best part: the main event was a 3 vs 3 fight featuring wrestling superstar Blue Demon Jr:

11053456_801224506634686_439778802719636076_n

I’d like to clarify some of the rumors circling around the internet about a photo of myself in the ring with no shirt: they are true, the photo exists but will not be revealed. Unless…

Yesterday I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams: I climbed on the ropes of the ring at the wrestling venue Arena Coliseo. I was booed by the audience, they thought I was a heel. If I get 200 likes I’ll post the photo. (link)

– Marcos Kirsch on Facebook

As of now, we are well short of 200 likes, so the photo shall remain out of sight.
In the background: You gotta love Mexico. Kids are free to go in the ring and beat each other up in between fights.

 

Left to right: Ori N., Eli N., Marcos K., David C., Bernardo K.

 

He cried that he didn’t want to go. He was forced to go. He loved every minute of it and did not even sit down or close his mouth for the four hours of wrestling.

 

Yes, that’s Blue Demon Jr. kicking butt.

 

Mexico City trip report

I flew to Mexico City last weekend. Here are some highlights:

Galia

The main reason of my lightning trip to Mexico City was to meet my new niece Galia, who also happens to be Ilan’s baby cousin. Lots of hair an big blue eyes as you can see in the picture. On the baby as well! She’s a cutie.

IMG_2097.JPG
Galia and favorite uncle.

 

IMG_2093.JPG
Galia and favorite uncle playing the stare game. She blinked first, I’m still the champion.

Xochimilco

Jacobo and family, my mom, and I went to Xochimilco. People complain it’s dirty and not worth it. They are wrong, it’s great. We got there “early” (Mexico City standards) at around 10 AM and were the only people there. We made the strategic mistake of eating breakfast at the hotel which sucked because the food looked amazing there. On the other hand, the food was amazing at the hotel.

IMG_2110.JPG
With the little gringos.

 

IMG_2073.JPG
Mexican hotel breakfast is the best.

 

IMG_2134.JPG
It used to be that after a shot of tequila, you’d shake your head. Nowadays you spin upside down from a pole hanging from your feet. The after-effect is magnified.

 

IMG_2124.JPG
Left: My brother Jacobo Right: A guy in a sweater photo bombing us.

Estadio Azteca

On our way back from Xochimilco we passed the legendary Estadio Azteca, where Pelé (1970) and Maradona (1986) both raised the FIFA Cup. We decided to stop and check if they have tours. It happens that they do.

IMG_2136.JPG
In the tunnel where the players head out to the pitch. On the left, signs for every team to ever visit the stadium – except, they explained – Pumas and Guadalajara. On the right, photos of memorable moments. In the middle, a couple of tourists who aren’t very good at playing soccer.

 

IMG_2143.JPG
On this field Mexican players won the U17 World Cup in 2011. The players were less than half my current age. Damn!

 

IMG_2148.JPG
At the press briefing room. Yes, the trophy is fake. And nobody from the press showed up.

Pujol

My brother was in a foodie mood for his birthday. We went to a fancy schmancy restaurant in Polanco called Pujol “ranked 17th best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine in 2013″ according to Wikipedia. And Wikipedia never lies, right?

IMG_2151.JPG
A plate of mole, and nothing else, at Pujol.

We had a seven-course dinner that involved everything from mezcal to ants, all in tiny portions. The highlight of the night, in my opinion was the “Mole madre, mole nuevo” which is a little scoop of mole that has been cooking for (I shit you not) 562 days with an even smaller scoop of mole of a more recent vintage. You get a few handmade tortillas to scoop it up and that’s it. It was as good as you’d expect from something that had taken 562 days to prepare. I told the waiter that it was good and he can now bring me the full portion. He didn’t get the joke.

Costa Rica Part IV: Zip line

Remember those posts back in December/January about our trip to Costa Rica? Back when I would tell locals that their team had a chance to do well in the World Cup and the locals didn’t believe me? (they played great in the qualifiers!). Well… The MKX® reporter tasked with those never finished her assignment.

I installed a bunch of memory on the Mac mini, which makes editing video decisively less painful. To test it, I pieced together our clips from zip-lining throughout the Costa Rican jungle. This was on December 18th, 2013. The clips are short and to the point.

Enjoy!