September 25, 2008
Shenzhou 7, The Ultimate Lunch Wagon

For lunch today, I stopped at Ocean King along Stockton Boulevard. The barbecued pork and chicken were just OK, certainly not as captivating as the Chinese newscast that played out across the large high-definition screen at the front of the restaurant throughout the meal. It was devoted almost entirely to today's launch of Shenzhou 7, a three-man spacecraft now hurtling about the globe.

China's third manned space mission, Shenzhou 7 is to include the nation's first spacewalk. Headlines of other news creeped across the bottom of the screen, alternating with even more information about Shenzhou 7 - it carries three astronauts, the spacewalk will last 30 minutes, the mission is to go on for three days, 30 emergency plans have been developed should the crew run into trouble.

But the one factoid I couldn't quite get over simply said that "80 food varieties" were aboard Shenzhou 7. The tidbit leaves observers wandering how big each portion is, how they will be shared, and, naturally, what they are. But no matter how you dice it, that seems like a heck of a lot of food for three men over three days. No wonder China is considered the crucible of one of the world's more revered cuisines, if not the most revered.

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