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Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Last Supper

Returning from a long day of walking and sightseeing I was really hungry. After the driver deposited me at my hotel I decided to see what its restaurant offered: mostly American food and at exorbitant prices. (The cheapest meal was 68 RMB...that amount will feed 5 people very nicely in Wuhan) Unwilling to have my "last supper" in China replicate what I will be eating shortly I decided to explore the neighborhood. So, I headed towards the lobby door.

I saw a gaggle of Western tourists and a handful of Chinese visitors leave simultaneously. The Westerners turned left, towards the KFC, Sizzler, McDonalds and Pizza Hut, offerings. The Chinese folks turned right. It was a 'no brainer' in my mind. I turned right. I figured they would know where to fill my desire for rice, the green vegetable Lorraine and I always order, and bit of fried pork.

Correct decision!

Two blocks away they turned into a restaurant where every face was Chinese. I entered and quickly learned no one spoke English. Now, if I had done this in December I would have turned around and made an escape. But, because my Chinese and Western friends have taught me how, as an illiterate, to order and I have learned what foods I like and don't like, I didn't think too much of it.

Making a hand gesture to see a menu and holding up one finger indicating I'm alone, the waitress showed me to the only vacant table in the place. Fortunately, the menu had photos so I could recognize many of the items they had since I'd already experienced them before.

I found what I was looking for and pointed at them when she returned.

As the food made its way out to my table I learned of one slight mistake in my ordering. The fried pork was half red peppers! Oh my, my glasses or the photos did me in. But, I persevered reasoning that a lot of hot, spicy food was just what my cold needed. It's perfect for clearing the head!

While eating the 20-something folks across at the two tables followed my dining with great interest. Clearly, they were looking at what I ordered—one boy's eyes betrayed his thoughts when he saw me eating pork and chili—and the girl smiled as I used my chopsticks in the proper manner.

On the way out a small boy, about 4 or 5, stopped by my table and gave me a toothy grin and said something I took to be a greeting. Being a foreigner I'm now accustomed to people walking up to practice English, asking what country I'm from or using hand gestures that they want their photo taken with a foreigner. I don't know what the deal was with today, but three little boys of the same age for some reason took a shine to me—this is totally mysterious to me Marilyn since it's always you the little kids love, but you weren't here so I guess I would do—as one boy indicated he wanted his photo taken with me during the tour.

Well, I finished my meal—it was enough for two people so yes I left about half the food—and got the check: 32 RMB. Smiling I paid the waitress and left. I must admit I was a bit pleased with myself for not taking the easy road, but tackling the tougher road...and it made all the difference in dining delights! (Lorraine, that line is for you!)


At 6:43 AM, Lorraine said...

I'm clever enough and caught that line immediately. I should show it to my American Literature "Chinese" students and teach another literary term: allusion. Bless you for your humor!


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