Dream of Ding Village is an awful story. Yan Lianke, the author, was censored by the Chinese government for it. What’s so awful? It’s based on true events that they would prefer not be publicized. In order to retrieve the amounts of blood being used by the big city blood banks, some intrepid members of government decided that the poor villages ought to be paid to sell blood. They swiftly accepted the offer and grew prosperous, right up until the frequent use of dirty needles set off an AIDS epidemic of unthinkable proportion.
In Hunan province, Ding Village is one of these. The Ding family sums up the whole situation: one son, dead of AIDS, the other preying on the dying to move his career forward even as his own son is murdered in revenge. The patriarch sets up a quarantine center for the victims in a school. Even amidst certain death, hysteria, and extreme poverty, life goes on. Lovers meet and marry, jealousies arise, and money and power are at the center of it all.
In the school, the fading patients still look forward to communal meals. With the lack of money comes often a lack of meat, so this may be something Ding Village would have eaten…
Stirfry for Ding Village
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms
1 sliced green bell pepper
1/2 lb (1 bunch) spicy greens
3 cloves sliced garlic
2 Tb black bean sauce
1-2 Tb soy
Heat a wok or heavy large skillet over medium high heat, and add a splash of cooking oil. When it spits at you, toss in the mushrooms and bell pepper. After stirfrying 1-3 minutes, the mushrooms should start to look cooked and the pepper will be losing some of its snap. Add the garlic and greens, stirring briefly before adding the black bean sauce and soy. Turn off the heat and let the steam finish wilting the greens.