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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.


After a small bout of food poisoning, I decided the best way for me to get better was to go out with the group while we were in Dali, so I could see the city for the first time. As we were walking around Xizhou (a village outside of Dali), we decided for lunch to buy street food and experience the local cuisine. We stopped first to get some fresh fruit from the local market. As we were deciding which fruit to buy, I asked Anna G if we could get the fattest orange (which was most likely imported) rather than the locally grown, imperfect oranges. She said “Sure!” then suggested that we try both and see which one tasted better. I thought it was a wonderful idea and even bought an odd-looking, green orange. Once we left the market with all our fruit, we walked around some more and found a shop that sold Xizhou Baba (a flavored bread) and ordered some for the whole group. While we were waiting I sat down on the side of the road and decided to then taste test the oranges. Using my lap as a table, I peeled each orange and then, one by one, tasted them. The tiny, green orange reminded me of a clementine except with a sharper flavor. The big, imported orange had a pale flavor. And then, when I bit into the local, medium orange there was an explosion of flavor in my mouth—the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

That was the orange I was looking for!