Sunday, October 25, 2009

Slow Boat to China

We went to China this past weekend. Didn't we mention?

Actually, our dear friends Ying and John were kind enough to have us over for dinner this past Saturday night for Chinese. John and I grew up together, and I had eaten at his parents' house a bunch of times, but it's been a while. I forgot how incredible authentic Chinese food is; it's completely different from the take out we're use to in America. And good for you! There is a good reason why the Chinese live so long, stay so healthy, and have such beautiful complexions.

The photo above is a detail of one of eight Hunan Province Chinese embroideries that Mike and I have hanging over our bed. My parents bought them in San Francisco on the first leg of their honeymoon, and I found them laid carefully in a drawer about 20 years later, perfectly preserved. They are all different; each has its own characters. All but one have a pair of birds: the lone avian is an eagle. Ying was sweet enough to translate each one for me, but I was dumb enough to promptly forget. I do remember that the inscription on the eagle has to do with prosperity in the workplace, while the pair of peacocks calls upon a happy and harmonious marriage. I will have to get Ying to decipher them for me once again, and this time I'll have to write the meanings on the back of the frames.

But I digress. Supper. Saturday night. Delicious!

Ying started us off with edamame, one of our favorite dishes and one that I can make myself at home. Everything went fancy from there, and I soon realized this meal was one that I could never replicate.

Ying brought out thin strips of beef and chicken to carefully cook in the hot plate on the table; I felt bad because she spent more time cooking than she did eating. The chicken and beef were marinated beautifully, and we used big lettuce leaves, nori, or (and this fascinated me to no end) very thinly fried egg in which to wrap the meat along with rice, sauces, crab, eggs, and vegetables. There were big chopsticks on the table for us to use, but I forgot and once used my personal chopsticks to snag some beef. Hope nobody noticed my taboo!

But wait, there's more.

Ying outdid herself with such a varitey of dishes. One of my favorites was steamed rice cakes and bean sprouts with a spicy Chinese sauce. It was so good I bit my tongue twice in my enthusiasm. We also had grilled marinated chicken, fried rice, and a list of deliciousness that I can neither pronounce nor spell. But it was so good. We ate until we were full, then until we were stuffed, and then until it was painful!

But wait! There's more!

Then Ying brought out cups of a drink (again, I can neither pronounce nor spell) of avocado, pineapple, and mango. I'll admit it was a little odd-looking to this American with its green hue. But wow, was it good! It also had black pearl tapioca in it to give texture and added nutrients. We were in heaven.

And Mike has added black pearls to my grocery list.

Oh yeah, there's MORE.
THEN John brought out a fruit tray with citrus, grapes, cherry tomatoes, and pineapple. THEN he brought out warm brownies with strawberry ice cream.

Then my pants ripped.

Thank you, John and Ying, for such a lovely evening filled with great food and exemplary company. I didn't eat for the next 24 hours. And John, I understand that the deal was for Ying to cook and you to clean, and that you had something to do with preparation before we arrived. I hope it wasn't too much trouble to clean up the ginormous mess we left!

I'll have to attempt to return the favor. Somehow fried chicken and biscuits just doesn't seem to compete.

Photos courtesy of Tskuba, Rikaty, Wikimedia, and Sea Point Farms.



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