Friday, April 30, 2010

Culinary adventures in an ACTUAL Chinese house

This blog is taking a new adventure, along with me, as I spend the summer in the Republic of China. I've got an internship teaching English at Zhong Xin High School and I'm ready and willing to tackle whatever that involves. Especially if that involves crazy Chinese food.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Your mission, should you choose to accept it....

Agent 1275, we have disturbing reports coming in from our operatives. We need a good man to go in and confirm for us. We're hearing that . . . and these are just allegations, mind you, but we are hearing that the best Chinese food in the world might actually be found at a location in Sandy, Utah, in the United States. While this threatens the cultural supremacy of the most serene People's Republic of China, we can take comfort in the fact that it may just be more capitalist lies.

Chinese Dinner for 1.3 Billion

Back when I lived in the French house, I had a calling. It was a very special calling. I was the ward dinner chairman. I moved out after a couple months because they didn't have a spot for me in the fall and while I missed everyone dearly I had a little spot in my heart that was rejoicing because: ward dinner chairman is the hardest calling ever.

Once a month, you get to coordinate a meal for 150 people. Now, I like meals, and I like people, and I probably even like all 150 of these people but seriously. I had to sleep for 3 days straight just to recover every time.

Now that I live in the Chinese house I am on the beneficiary end of ward dinner - I show up to eat and someone else has done all the hard work.

This month, though, we had a very special ward dinner. The best ward dinner of all: Chinese ward dinner. And I volunteered to be the Chinese food consultant. (Do you think I could be a professional Chinese food consultant? If so, actually, I'm dropping out of college right now.) And so the planning and the coordination of the shopping and the coordination of the cooking was under my supervision. That's right: plan Chinese dinner for 1.3 billion people.

So here we go!

Koko Chan's First Artichoke

My little friend Yoyo is one of those people you'll never forget. You know how Japanese women are just sweet, timid, blushing little flowers who never utter a disharmonious note? Yes. Yoyo is absolutely none of the above.

She and I were mission companions. We shared all sorts of tender moments. We'd be walking down the street in a little town in Shizuoka Ken and the public announce system would start informing us that a little old lady had gone missing. Yoyo would pause, grab my arm dramatically and start humming the theme to X-Files. Or there was the time that she was rather upset at a decision our zone leader had made, incensed that such a young American boy thought he knew best. She called him and when he answered, she said in very dramatic accented English: "When you were 12, I LIVED BY MYSELF." And then promptly hung up.

She is probably one of my favorite people in the world. And last fall, she made the world that much better: she brought Koko Chan into it. Koko Chan is the fattest little half Japanese baby I've ever seen, and utterly adorable. I don't get to see them nearly often enough so I invited them over to dinner a couple weeks ago.