Every four or five days my body craves vegetables, tons of them. That's when I heap my plate at an all-I-can eat Chinese buffet. So far, I've done this twice on this trip.
The first time, I loaded up on zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, green peppers, jicama, broccoli, onions, and cauliflower. I had a bowl of seafood soup, and a bit of chicken. I also grabbed a fried chicken wing and a chicken-carrot croquet that tasted sour and neither chickeny nor carroty.
The second time, I´m at a different place, gorging on a bowl of broth and two plates of the vegetables above, plus string beans. I also help myself to the chicken and seafood that some of the greens, yellows, and oranges accompany. As I finish up, I am struck by a debilitating MSG headache.
Through the headachy haze, I hear what sounds like someone screaming. I feel unnerved, as the screaming keeps getting louder, coming closer. Then I notice a girl, heading for the restaurant kitchen, toting a big plastic bag in each hand. One bag holds three large, live ducks. The other, four white pigeons or doves. I know this, because their heads are sticking out and their eyes peering at me as I watch them. A young man follows behind the girl. He's hoisting another, larger bag, in which a small goat -- the source of the screaming -- is struggling.
Now, I am not a vegetarian. I know that some of what I eat -- poultry, fish, seafood -- has a face. But, the sight of these animals, destined for tomorrow's buffet, is pretty disturbing. I can't tell if I've lost my appetite because of all the food I just ate or the soon-to-be-food I just faced.