The D ay of Stressful Shopping was quickly followed by the night of too much drink….and not necessarily alcohol!!!
We were picked up at the hotel and taken back to the Beijing Institute of Botany where we were met by a group of researchers. One of the big deals here is to present your business card to visitors and each of these 6 men carefully and formally presented their cards to Michael. Each card looked exactly the same, except for the name and email address. I asked Michael if he would remember who was who!!!!
We drove down the road to a "country-club” type compound and entered a greenhouse….that was actually a restaurant.
We walked down a long tree-lined pathway…..
….past the open air kitchen……..
…..and into a private room with a huge round table.
When you get ready to sit at a table, the head of the table is indicated by how the napkin is folded. In this case, all of the other napkins were rolled, but Michael’s was standing upright on his plate.
Once we were seated, the waitress came around and picked up our napkins and I waited for her to put it in my lap. NO…..instead she lifted up the plate on the table and placed the corner of the napkin under the plate with the rest of the napkin flowing off of the table and into my lap. Very ingenious!!
Another waitress quickly came around with green tea. At this point we were asked if we would like juice with our meal. We said yes and were surprised when a thick green concoction was poured into our glasses. Upon inquiry we were told that this was “Green Bean Juice”!!!! It tasted like a cold cream green bean soup!! Michael said that it needed salt!!
Next came the bottles of wine and a few sips were poured into each glass.
Now came the fun part……there was a small glass pitcher and a tiny glass sitting at each place. The pitcher was filled (or partly filled) with a clear liquid and we were told that it was a liquor made from Wheat and Sorghum.
Here is what our place setting looked like before the food started arriving…..
Do you see the big glass turntable in the center of the table? As each dish was presented, it would be placed on the turntable and then turned to where Michael and I could have the first bite of it. It is a bit stressful to have to use chopsticks to pick it up when everyone is watching you!!!!
I do not have any photos of the food, but these were the dishes……
Cold beef slices
Tripe (the first time I had eaten it…..it was OK, but not my favorite)
White Yam with blueberry drizzle
Lamb ribs (the meat had been cut off of the ribs, and the bones were arranged as a holder for the meat)
Chicken with Water Chestnuts
Pork and peppers
Others that I cant remember……
After the entire meal had been served, the rice was brought out. Apparently this signifies that there is no more food to come…..except for the dumplings…..and the dessert!!!!
Dessert consisted of beautifully arranged fruit…..pineapple and watermelon slices.
As the night progressed there were MANY toasts made with the liquor. Apparently the tradition is that each person at the table must make a personal, individual toast to every one else at the table!! We received their toasts, but only made ONE big toast to everyone at the same time.
If the “toasters” were close to each other, they would clink glasses. If they were across the table, they would tap their glasses two times on the table before they drank.
Needless to say, with 11 people at the table, many of them got very silly before the night was over. There was much wobbling among them as we made our way back to the car!!!