Dining with Friends in Zhuhai
Tonight we’re having dinner with our hosts. Yan, our travel companion has a brother-in-law, Laogan, who runs several restaurants in Zhuhai and he has invited us to dine in one together with the whole family.
He turns out to be a big, rugged man with a hearty smile and a roaring laughter. We are taken to a private room upstairs, placed around a large table and given a pair of chopsticks each. Then food is brought in and placed on a large rotating disc in the middle of the table. That way we can all just turn the table to reach the favored dish. Clever!
One thing that strikes us immediately is the swapping of gifts, everyone has something that they want to give to each other, sunglasses, clothes, pictures – anything. Also the bottles of Norwegian Aquavit that we were advised to bring receive a warm welcome. There are smiles and laughter all around the table.
Poor Mimi has a tedious job translating it all for our benefit,
she’s got the patience of an angel.
But even she finds time to enjoy the meal.
You don’t have to be Chinese in order to enjoy a meal like this, but there is bliss in every face around the table.
All of them take great pleasure in trying to teach us to eat with chop sticks and slowly we do get the hang of it.
The table fills up with lots of delicious food, as soon as one dish is empty new ones are brought in; and not more of the same! No, for every empty dish removed, a new and different dish is brought in, in a never ending flow. There is chicken, fish, duck, shellfish, meat and quite a few undistinguishable ones too. And the vegetables; they’re all very fresh and crispy, made with garlic and soy sauce.
To give an impression of it all, I tried to photograph the different dishes with my cell phone. (See all the images here).
There is one hitch to it though, my wife has an increasing challenge as one who said when she was close to starvation, that she did find the chicken feet rather tasty and delicious and now they (the chicken feet) are haunting her whenever we sit down with our Chinese friends. Let this be a warning; never say to a Chinese that you savour chicken feet because nobody except Chinese do and so they will offer them to you at any possible occasion. Believe me, you’ll regret it!
And so the meal continues, more and more food is brought, the beer (or bin tao, at least, that’s what it sounds like they’re saying) is floating freely. The Aquavit we brought is also quickly consumed but doesn’t seem to influence anyone particularly much.
Time for a Marlboro-break: Outside, in front of the restaurant I am offered a Chinese, peculiar cigarette, in the middle of the filter there is a red hole in the shape of a heart and the label says “ S25-I love you” . It doesn’t taste very good but I smile and say thank you, nodding my approval. In just a few moments I am handed a whole carton of them. I suppose I should be more careful with what I say or do not to be buried in gifts. Of course all the gifts are given with the best of intentions but it can be a bit overwhelming.
In front of the restaurant there are several aquariums containing all sorts of fish and crustaceans some of which looks quite familiar and some that definitely does not. I point to some of them and say:”In Norway too!” and point in the direction that I think Norway should be. The waiter standing next to me nods and smiles, points to another specimen and asks with his eyes. “No, not in Norway” and this goes on for a while until he reaches the basin with turtles in them, he points at them inquisingly. “No, I say, in Norway, police!, ba-bu ba-bu!” I think he got my point.
Inside, the meal is finally coming to an end. Someone says: “Beer street!”
Car are summoned and off we go,
After Dining and Drinking,
we’re off to Zhuhai’s tourist-highway: Beer Street