A Travellerspoint blog

Dining in China

Meals as ritual

1001.jpgUnlike the typical U.S. meal, every meal in China, when you are a guest, takes on an aspect of ritual. Shared meals are always at a round table.
The round tables have massive glass "lazy susans"--I have never learned what they call them because it is just a normal table to them.
The host always sits with his back facing the wall--looking toward the entrance. The host's napkin is always folded in a special way.
Meals are always eaten in a small private dining room with a designated server. 1456.jpg
Once four dishes have been placed on the table, drinks may be served. The regular drink served to everyone is HOT water---then should one rquest it, juice , beer or the (everclear) white wine may appear. The host makes the request.
Dishes are served only in even numbers. All the dishes are served family style except the last rice or noodles. If seven people are at the table an 8th bowl of noodles will be put on the lazy susan.
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The food is delicious but not remotely like "Chinese food" in America. It is all fresh..many vegetables...in Lianyungang...the local preference is fresh seafood, the whole fish,and pancakes (super thin crepes)they are at most meals and one fills them with dishes and rolls them up and eats them with their hands. Fillings might be quartered hard bolied eggs, green onions, pickled vegetables, any random meat dish.
One of our specialities was a pork dish--roasted slowly with about a one inch layer of scored pork fat on top. Our hosts ate the fat and the meat, we picked at it and ate the meat part. Super delicious.

One evening one of our most gracious hosts requested a turtle dish for us. We did not realize that it involved a long cooking process--2 hours later the turtles arrived---individual turtles for each of us........we had envisoned perhaps a turtle soup............really.... and how does one with chopsticks approach the turtle in the bowl in front of you....our host was kind enough to demonstrate lifting off the shell and forging ahead...tearing off the limbs ...a bit more challenging.............
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Posted by annhcrowley 06:59 Comments (0)

Relaxing by the riverside

Have stool will play

On a typical late afternoon one can find hundreds of people along the rierside parks. Most have their own folding stools and have come to play cards, mahjong, or a game with rocks. Older Men on old bicycles have hooks on the side of the rear wheel to carry the stools. Some groups use park tables , others bring their own low folding tables. Cool breezes, shade trees and the river make for a beautiful place to spend time.
Some older men have their birds in cages out for a walk with them. It is a low key pleasant environment, those not engaged in a game are strolling, getting mild excercise or sitting with friends visiting. A pretty delightful sight to see.
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China at its best

Posted by annhcrowley 07:40 Comments (0)

Weddings

A Big Deal in China too

The Wedding industry is not an American phenomenon alone. In China weddings are a big industry. Today on a walk after school, probably a mile down to the riverside I snapped a few pictures of shop windows featuring wedding dresses as I went. Many are flanked by jewelry stores with lavish flower or organza net heart shaped decorations at the door. Some feature big speakers blaring romantic love songs. Hotels are a primary wedding venue. In Nanjing on Saturday evening four weddings were held. Western style dresses are in vogue with the brides then changing into the traditional red dress at some point.
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1005.jpgJason might like this one..just a thought
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Posted by annhcrowley 07:16 Comments (0)

On our own

Exploring sans hosts

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Sunday morning we could sleep in--breakfast buffet lasts until 9:30. We had some ideas about things we would like to see: The anti-Japanese mountain memorial, a big resevoir outside of town and the monument to XuFu who legend says took an expedition to Japan many years ago.
Maps are tough to come by in China. The internet map options sometimes help a bit but often don't have enough detail. Armed with a xerox of a city may all in Chinese characters we went to the front desk. They helped us locate the places and wrote them in characters for us. Then we had to broach how to get there. Two of the three places were not accessible by bus so perhaps a taxi. The desk people checked on the price for a taxi to take us and stay with us. We thought 400 Yuan too steep. We thought 300 sounded better. The taxi service wouldn't come down. So we asked if any of them had friends with a car.
Indeed they found us someone. Ten minutes later a Mr. Chen arrived in a modern small car and off we went. He was an excellent driver, knew the way and as it turned out was an off duty police officer.......

Our first stop was the resevoir, a large dam spans the width and it provides all the drinking water for Ganyu. Oddly there was no recreational activity on this large beautiful lake, with the exception of fishing.045.jpg

Our second stop was the Anti-Japanese Mountain. It was a large complex comprised of gardens and walkways culminating in a huge statue at the top. It commemorates all those who fought against the Japanese. There were lots of stele and inscribed stone monuments.........also lots of stairs.
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On the way through the countryside we saw all sorts of random things---a Buddhist burial site,054.jpg

and every crop imaginable---rows of raspberries, fields of watermelon, rice galore. The roads were narrow paved cement with symmetrical plantings of trees lining the roadside. Our driver pulled over and treated us to some watermelon on the way to Xufu site.]067.jpg

We were pretty unclear about the site when we got there....it was under reconstruction. It looked like part temple, part unknown...Xufu was a legendary fellow who ostensibly took 100 boys and 100 girls on an expedition looking for the fountain of youth.........landed in Japan and founded the Japanese people.........the "history" is murky---some texts put the numbers in the thousands others describe him as a sorcerer or alchemist....
there was a big statue of him in any event...084.jpg

Posted by annhcrowley 05:24 Comments (0)

Seaside excursion

Lianyungang

On Saturday our hosts arranged to take us to the Yellow Sea for a seaside excursion. The drive was not far. After a stretch of lowlands we crossed the largest sea water dam in China which connects an island to the mainland. The island rose dramatically from the sea and the winding road took us to the top of the hills. When we were near the summit they paid an entrance fee and we proceeded. We reached a parking area and proceeded down a lush hillside 240 steps to a nice sandy beach. 1011010.jpg There were the ubiquitous plastic chairs and permanent thatched shade structures. Our male hosts were in dress slacks and dress shoes,our female host in a skirt,her 11 year old son and the driver came prepared to swim. I at least had shorts on. My two fellow teachers both managed swim trunks. Happily it was not too hot so we enjoyed a pleasant time.
A few observations--many of the Chinese in the water wore bright orange life jackets rented from a concession--the life guards were bundled up as if it were very cool--a motorboat and jetski--offered rides, for a fee, zooming in and out of the swiming area.
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Around 1:00 we climbed back up the hill ( an Anna-worthy climb) and piled back into the van. We drove into the port cityand found lunch. Again a massive quantity of food 8 or 9 dishes. We then went on to the actual port itself. Our host ran into a building and got permission for us to drive into the actual working part of the port. It was pretty fascinating--endless containers from all over the world--massive ranes on tracks loading and unloading cargo. The port is one of the largest in China. it is the easternmost terminus of the the Eurasia land bridge which has continuous rail service to Russia and then on all the way through Europe to Holland. It was opened in 1996. The proximity to South Korea and Japan make it a very convenient international port.
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On our way home we stopped at the Ganyu Museum and spent an hour with one of our very knowledgeable hosts. Ganyu is a very old place and traces its history back 5000 years. It was visited by Confucius.

Then on to dinner--another massive meal--just when we thought it was over more dishes arrived.

Posted by annhcrowley 04:34 Comments (0)

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