Nanyang – China
Ordering food in China is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Our techniqes include pointing to food being eaten by people in the restaurant, pointing randomly at something on the menu (which is of course written in indecipherable Chinese) or trying to pronounce simple words such as “mien” (noodles) which is usually met with blank faces. These have all resulted in various dishes being served up to us, ranging from huge plates of fried celery with bacon to deep fried aubergine in chilli sauce (a personal favourite). On one occasion a huge plate of duck came out, minus the meat. It was essentially the skin and head in a spicy coating. We did manage to eat it, including some of the beak, which was akin to munching down on a spiced fingernail. We have since found a more consistent way of ordering which involves going into the kitchen and pointing at the various vegetables or meat that we want them to cook, but even this has it’s flaws, mainly that we typically end up with way too much food. In one case we were presented with four big plates of stir fried vegetables, a big bowl of soup, a big plate of fried beef and a couple of bowls or rice.
When we were with Joe, we assumed our culinary adventures would be over, not so. At dinner, we were served a chicken carcass that had been chopped into tiny, oxo cube sized pieces that Joe seemed to relish nibbling on. There was no meat of any note (much like a chicken burger then) but it did come with the feet and head intact. I declined on the head and feet but Fearghal managed to put them into his mouth and give a single chew before spitting it out. So now we’re even in our eating-nasty-stuff competition, since I managed to eat a sheeps eyeball when we were in Morocco a few years ago.
Eating is rarely a boring, sit and eat affair, there is usually something to keep us occupied. I was told by a waitress that I “look terrible“, I have been photographed by diners and chefs alike, all wanting to get a shot of themselves with the Irish Orang Utan. While having breakfast the other day in a market, we heard what sounded like the beating of drums. It turned out it was a chicken causing the stir. After cutting the chickens throat, the farmer casually threw it into the drum so it didn’t runaround, like a headless chicken. There it shook so violently in spasm that the heavy metal drum actually moved and banged around. The chicken was then taken and plunged into boiling water to clean and to loosen its feathers, and was subsequently plucked. Within about 3 minutes it went from alive and pecking to to being carried off in a plastic bag. Definately a different experience from the buying a cellophane wrapped chicken in Tescos.