My husband's boss invited us for dinner with some of the other coworkers at a Chinese restaurant near our home. This restaurant is probably one of my favorite Chinese restaurants here in Qingdao. Bei Da Huang Ren. It's a hotel restaurant...the kind of hotel Chinese people are happy to stay at but foreigners like us probably wouldn't be comfortable there. The restaurant is awesome though and it is always packed. But because Chinese New Year is almost here, it was even more busy than usual. Normally, that would annoy the crap out of me, but because of the approaching holiday, it seemed to add to the ambiance.
The food at this restaurant makes me happy to eat Chinese food. I was a little worried this time though since, being invited as someone's guests, we were at their mercy for whatever they ordered. They did a great job though, mostly. While I was bummed that no one ordered their fall-off-the-bone ribs or this other thing I like that comes with thin pancakes and meat and green onions to stuff it in, I was still quite content.
Behind that is la pi, one of my favorites. I was surprised to see it here. We've had it at this restaurant before but what surprised me is that it is typically served in the summer. In the back, there is a bowl of some gloppy thing that I was happy stayed on the other side of the table. Next to that, there's a bright and happy-looking dish. I wanted to try it, until I took a closer look. Do you know what it is? It's fried fish spines. No fucking joke, and no fucking thank you. And finally, a big whole steamed fish, with spine intact.
Are you ready for this?
They put lots of bai jiu, the Chinese liquor, inside big containers like these along with lizards or snakes. Apparently in Chinese medicine, it is believed that drinking bai jiu that has had one of these creatures marinating in there with it will restore bad health, and for men, will correct erectile dysfunction. Take that, Viagra! So yeah, you're looking at dead reptilians floating in a sea of bai jiu. Please add this to my list of things I will not be trying while in China.
an old lady floral print scarf. No one in the restaurant did, as far as I could tell, but there were plenty of fashion victims, as usual.
And that's another thing...I found my husband's boss to be extremely considerate. He's a smoker, and the whole damn restaurant is filled with people smoking. On the way to the bathroom, I passed a table where a man was holding a child no more than one year old and smoking while doing so! But Jeremy's boss did not light up once at our table. It's extremely uncommon. I've had to ask people we've been dining with to please not smoke in the same room as our child, so it was a breathe of fresh air, pardon the pun.
Jeremy has learned to be less worried about that, now that he's married to that American perspective. It seems sillier to me to waste good food because you fear what a room full of strangers might think of you for taking it home.
OK, so maybe that last bit was a complaint, but it sure is nice to talk about something that makes living in China seem very charming. Here's to our upcoming Year of the Horse and all the festivities it will bring!