How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

Beijing Day 5, Part 4: Special Peking Dinner

85 Comments


When the bus dropped us off, we walked to the restaurant down an alley and a weird sidewalk, up-heaved and not finished, or maybe under construction. We entered a shopping mall and took the escalator to the second floor. The women wanted to look around and shop. We hadn’t been in a Chinese mall yet. Again, no time. I didn’t care about actual shopping, but I wanted to compare a mall in the east to what we knew at home. From our rushed escort, I’d say they are comparable.

Fancy caving of Peking Duck

Fancy caving of Peking Duck. Check out the wind glass on the table.

Our heads swiveled as if at a tennis match, but Robert whisked the English 8 into the most upscale restaurant we’d been to so far. All the restaurants thus far wouldn’t be mistaken for anything by Chinese. Excepting the staff, we might have been anywhere in the world. Our table, tucked in a quiet corner with no other patrons around, put the idea into my head that we’d been bad. (small joke)

Asked for our preference, our glasses were blessed with a splash—my guess—an ounce of wine. (Proof positive: Don’t do this at home, kids. Today I ran a test. I measured an ounce of water and poured it into a similar glass. I was right. Sometimes I amaze me.)

Appetizers

  • thin beef slices
  • radish
  • salad (didn’t write what kind)
  • vegetables

As expert as a surgeon

As expert as a surgeon

The opened bottle waited on the sideboard. What a group we are. No-one jumped to order. All meals and tips were inclusive but not the extra wine. At least when you buy a bottle of wine in a grocery store or liquor outlet, you can haggle over the price. You don’t ask the price of wine in a restaurant and then decide not to order. Right? Was it good? It wasn’t memorable.

The duck was presented and carved. An expert carver, every cut precise. Yes, we all tasted it, but no-one liked it and what an embarrassment to leave so much uneaten. Okay, I’ll tell you why: it was dry and tough. My apologies to the chef.

  • Rice
  • Beef and onion + red and green peppers for color
  • Sweet and Sour chicken (familiar, almost like home)
  • French fries and shrimp (yes, together)
  • Chinese cucumbers (the tiny ones)
  • Chicken and tomatoes
  • Soup (made no notation re kind)
  • Pulled duck meat and onions
  • Something like a tortilla for the duck meat

 IMG_0325

Wouldn’t you know, the one night we had an early evening, we ended up in a traffic jam, but not for long. My feet were killing me but felt better than the previous day. These new shoes I bought for mega bucks were comfortable but my feet perspired like fish in a steamer.

I needed bandages for the blisters. Couldn’t find the ones I KNOW I packed. Lucky for me we had a drugstore next to the small variety store on one side of the hotel. What an experience. Neither the druggist nor the cashier spoke English. Pantomime, hand signals and short of removing my shoes, we finally found regular bandages. I shook my head a lot and the druggist showed me a roll of gauze suitable for a bullet wound to the chest.

On my way back to the hotel I slipped into the variety store and for $3:00 U.S. bought a large can of Chinese beer. You know, to celebrate the bandages and yes, it hit the spot.

CCTV station in the background. Looks like a pair of pants.

CCTV station in the background. Looks like a pair of pants.

 

Some Quick FACTS about WORK:

  • Average salary $1,000 per month in major cities / less in smaller ones
  • White collar workers $1,700 per month
  • Working for government, same salary but allows discounts for detergents, soap, condos,
  • Working for government has good healthcare and other benefits even if salary low
  • Late to work once, maybe twice, 3rd time you’re fired
  • Unemployment rate 4 – 5%
  • 70% of companies are privately owned
  • Big imbalance between the rich and poor
  • Lots of floating population from rural areas and outside the city try to move to Beijing
  • Both parents must work
  • Grandparents live close by and look after child while parents at work

Family:

NO matter how many young children we came across—not hordes—not once did any one of them flip out, scream, cry, cause any kind of fuss. How does that work here? As well, lots of grandfathers and young fathers interact with the young child. By far, most of the children have been boys.

  • Babysitter for newborn good paying / competitive job = $1,500 / month
  • Rather hire grandma / grandparents who live close to help with childcare
  • Maternity leave is 6 months with pay
  • Second child penalty 60,000 Yuan ($10,000)
  • Twins or triplets are considered one pregnancy and not penalized

Next on August 7, Luoyang, Day 1, Part 1: Domestic Flight

To read more related information, click the China tab at the top of this page

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

85 thoughts on “Beijing Day 5, Part 4: Special Peking Dinner

  1. Oh duck is one of my most favorite foods. I have had it prepared so many ways, I can’t imagine one I would not like. Sounds like you were all having fun, minus the blisters. Ouch!

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  2. Oh that looks, sounds so delicious. That large can of Chinese beer, definitely to celebrate the bandage. 🙂

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  3. Sounds like a great adventure. Travelling is one of my favorite things. I’m almost afraid to ask – why was the expert carver wearing a surgical mask?

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  4. I love the line ‘my feet perspired like fish in a steamer.’ My feet are getting hot just thinking about it. Too bad about the blisters. \loved how you were offered a bandage suitable for a bullet wound. Haha. I’m totally with celebrating with the corner store beer. 🙂

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  5. Peking Dinner ? Obviously you did not” peek in” the kitchen to see what they were concocting.

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  6. Tess, I thought I was right there with you. I love the bits of humor within your travel blog. The fine balance you engage in is perfect.

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  7. Nothing worse than sore feet. Well, there are worse things but unhappy feet are near the top. I think the beer was probably the best of all.

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  8. just incredible and amazing!

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  9. Pity they were so mean with the wine! Fancy ruining a perfectly good duck!

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  10. First aid for those suffering from ‘traveller’s feet’. Requirements: two large bandages and a can of beer (generous glass of red wine can be substituted if beer not available). Wrap blisters in bandage, raise affected feet to a comfortable height and rest while consuming can of beer. Works for me 😆

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  11. I think even fussy ole me would eat some of this… 😉

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  12. “By far, most of the children have been boys.”—That’s going to catch up with them at some point…

    Always risky eating out in a foreign country, especially if one is wary of trying new things (like me!) 🙂

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  13. I am so enjoying the travel along with you, despite blisters and bad duck. The mostly boys thing, yes like Carrie said it will catch up with them eventually. Interesting note on the single pregnancy, I am surprised more couples don’t turn to fertility intervention which tends to produce more than one (twins or more).

    Love all the information your provide with each post Tess, it is always interesting.

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    • It warms my heart to have you comment like this, Val.

      About the fertility, I suppose they don’t think like westerners do or cannot afford it but you make an interesting point. I wouldn’t have thought of this either.

      I suppose I’m more interested in the fine details of peoples; lives than past history. Glad you’re enjoying this tour. ❤

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  14. Phew I’m beginning to wonder if you ever get a decent meal in China!

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  15. Bothered me to see the head attached to the duck. Would you do this trip again? Dont think I would go once?

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  16. You would be a blast to travel with. Sorry about that duck. Maybe they should have cooked them in your shoes? 😉 I’m finding it interesting to see the comparisons you’re sharing with us. Costs and earnings, etc….

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  17. This is so interesting Tess. Your little trip to the pharmacy reminded me of my own small excursion to the pharmacy in Honk Kong. I had suddenly developed a terrible cold which appeared from nowhere, my sinuses were killing me – and what do you know, no one in the pharmacy spoke English. I also needed plasters. Fortunately my little daughter had a plaster on her leg which I pointed to and the rest I explained by mimicking sneezing and stuff – my people found this all quite amusing 😀

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  18. I always find facts about other countries so interesting. It really drives home the fact that we know so little about other countries. Interesting that the unemployment rate is so low considering both parents must work.

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    • China doesn’t give away anything free, like Welfare. Everybody scrambles to make a business, i.e. peddling food on the street (cooking in the street on the sidewalk etc.).
      I agree, the culture and the people of other countries are interesting to me too.

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  19. You make me want to travel, Tess. Where are you going next?

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  20. Wow. The meal looks amazingly Americanized.

    I love the pants building! LOL
    xxxx

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  21. Beer is vital for any and all celebrations 😉

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  22. Well I’m not much for the menus, but glad you managed to find a beer, lol. And, wow that 2nd child law is frightening. 🙂

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  23. The duck over cooked? Sacrilege ! The shrimps and chips..interesting combo. The pharmacy visit,mi could picture you playing charades, I had to do the same in a chemist in Prague, but thankfully all I had to do was open my mouth and cough. Nice pics and journey Tess. xx

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  24. Pair of pants building is wonderful. Too bad you were disappointed in the duck dinner but at least you got to chase it with an ample beer.

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  25. Funny, I thought I’d commented on this post, I certainly read it a few days ago! That duck carving does indeed look like some kind of medical operation, I think that might have put me off a bit! Shame it was dry, duck is lovely when it’s …lovely! 🙂 I’m glad you kept such good notes on your trip so that we can enjoy the journey with you! (Those fries don’t look very good though).

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    • I get the feeling it was a show, a presentation for the foreigners and the mask for hygienic hoohaa.

      Don’t know what’s going on at WP, I’ve found myself commenting when I m sure I already have. I haven’t seen those little arrows that show a comment has been answered.

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  26. What a shame about the duck, and it was sounding so tempting and delicious…too bad about the wine too. No wonder you got that beer, I would have bought a case of it, haha!!! Hope your poor feet recovered quickly after that quick fix 😉 Fascinating what you share about the way the children and families interact. Real social commentary that and makes me wonder about a lot of things here in our Western society….now to your next post 🙂

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  27. Ooh, yes, supermarkets are a godsend when you’re traveling. 🙂
    And explaining what you need to a pharmacist when you don’t speak the language, brrr!

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  28. I really enjoy your list of facts about life in China!

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  29. The duck was dry and tough? Interesting!
    Peking duck is usually juicy and greasy because it is made of very fat duck.
    😀

    I wonder if they “cheated”.
    Maybe the commonly used duck ran out and they used some other types of duck.
    😀

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    • We were all embarrassed to leave it–and disappointed. This was the most glitzy and modern restaurant we’d been taken to so far.
      I’ve had Peking duck before and loved it. The thought that cross my mind was it must be an OLD bird but I’m teasing.

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      • I work in a restaurant and I know a lot of people in Chinese food business.

        We do not serve Peking Duck here but I did learn some of the “dirty tricks” used in some restaurants when they have to “make things ala instant” because of the lack of resources or time in meeting the demands.

        It is a waste of food but you should not be the one feeling embarrassed. As a fifth generation of a cooking family, I am ashamed some people of our profession serve that thing to you.

        I hope the next time you have Peking duck, it will be a wonderful one. 😀

        Greetings from rainy Indonesia – where I can really use a greasy , juicy Peking Duck! LOL!!!

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      • Hello, Hari. I’ve had Peking Duck before and it was awesome.
        Thank you for your kind words. It might just have been a bad day on the job that night.
        Raining in Indonesia. Raining everywhere it seems. 😀

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  30. Wondering if you finally got at least one authentic and delicious Chinese meal? Chinese food is such a big part of American culinary experience, it’s hard to imagine going to China and having lousy food. Seems like they are trying to cater to American/foreign taste but coming up short.
    BTW, did you ever get pizza? Or chocolate? Or good coffee? How was the tea? One of my favorite Chinese meals is mu-shu, the delicate thin pancakes that are filled with shredded pork or chicken and veggies and a plum-type sauce. I don’t know if that’s authentic Chinese, or if it’s a regional dish, or if it’s as Chinese as chop suey, but I love mu-shu!

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  31. The food was good. I was never hungry because I didn’t like everything. The food is not the same as we know it in North America, except for the chips (French Fries). Here we have lots of veggies in the Chinese food. There, I felt the vegetables were more for decoration and plating than for sustenance.
    There was pizza and we had some in a mall in Hong Kong when a meal wasn’t included (only once or twice). By then we wanted a hamburger but afraid to buy one after our raw pork episode. We w.e.r.e. tired of Chinese food and wanted something from back home.

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