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Rice paddy terraces

A day in the life of a Nanyao woman

In the morning, I wake up and make breakfast. First, I’ll fill a large black container with tap water to boil and the build the fire, occasionally adding dried corn to keep the flames going. I knead dough and then fry it along with a few eggs. I serve the food along with a bowl of sugar (for the fried bread) and call out to my husband, father and the meiguo ren (American person) that it’s time for breakfast. We sit on stools around the fire, drinking green tea and eating. While we sit and eat, we also feed bits of food to our puppy and dog.

After breakfast, I grab 2 big tubs and fill one with hot water and soap and the other with cool water. I scrub the dirty dishes in the soapy hot water, rinse them in the cool water, and return them to the cabinet. I also sweep, water the plants, feed the chickens and horses, and hand wash some laundry. When my daughters are home on break from college for a month for New Year’s, they help me with cooking meals and doing the chores.

For lunch I’ll get the fire going and make a few dishes, usually hot dog and corn, eggs and tomatoes, pork, finely sliced potatoes, or noodle soup. I’ll usually make 3-4 dishes that are eaten with a bowl of white rice or baozi (Steamed white buns). Bones from meat are left on the table and then cleaned off when finished eating. After lunch, I repeat the dishwashing process and continue the after-breakfast chores if they are not done yet. I might also join the other women in the village to farm.

Dinner is basically the same process as lunch. I’ll also boil more water. After dinner, the dishwashing process is again repeated and then everyone migrates to the family room, where we’ll sit around a small fire pit, watching TV, drinking tea, and eating sunflower seeds.