So I ate...
16.06.2013 - 16.06.2013 26 °C
Mu Shu Pork please, with a side of Orange Chicken?
In any foreign country, ordering food can be rather challenging, it is no different here in China. In fact the difficulty might be compounded due to the fact neither I, nor Cody speak a lick of Mandarin. But when a girl is hungry, she must eat! So off we went to the Business district of Haikou, we hear we might see a foreigner or two... but instead we were intrigued by a sidewalk restaurant tucked away behind walls of plastic bamboo. The basic protocol is to peek in the eating area, and if the waitress does not look annoyed at our obvious inability to order properly we proceed. Immediately order two beers, then leave the rest up to chaotic guessing and a pointing game. In this case the waitress shuffled us to a table where we passed a decent looking plate our restaurant neighbors have been working on. I promptly point to the plate, indicating "We will eat what they are eating!", and of course the beers. We were brought out freshly packaged plates and bowls, sage leaf tea and the drinks. Our neighbors energetically cheers us drink for drink- for a moment I thought this guy was going to drink me under the table... need food!
One last cheers, and the waitress put down our lunch... um, "Cody what do you think it is?", he answered with confidence, "Pig intestine".
Okay, we are eating intestine for lunch, I can handle this, but I will need a side of rice. I began to understand why the men were so eager to cheers us, they were impressed by the two foreigners ordering the pig intestine! At this point in our lunch, all the other tables had taken interest in our meal. We were brought a plate of peanuts, another dish of vegetables and two more beers- it seemed we had impressed our fellow diners. The meat was surprisingly to my liking, the tubular shape was unlike any other meat I have consumed, but I would not write it off in the future.
After clearing our plates and finishing off our beers, we used the international sign for, "can we pay you" (showing the waitress cash). She signaled to the empty table behind us where a couple had quietly eaten lunch while we were making a spectacle of ourselves, they had paid our bill. Our lunch turned out to be more then just meeting our instinctual need for food, it was a dive into the Chinese culture and the kindness you can find anywhere in the world if you seek it out. A meal is a time in the day when you nurture you stomach and often your soul. Thank you to the waitress for shuffling us to a table, thank you to the men whose cheers made me laugh and thank you to the kind couple who picked up our tab.
Embrace the chaos