Monday, December 13, 2010

“This is where all the magic happens”

Once upon a time, my friend Steve Russell gave me a tour of his house and introduced me to his bedroom with, “This is where all the magic happens,” which leads you to assume: not just anybody gets to see the magic and it only happens when you are with a certain someone or someone(s) who can show you a good time.  I usually use this phrase to introduce my home office, because that is where I magically make money.

Ok, this analogy actually does lead to something…my magic room was at a Chinese restaurant near Taroko National Park.  Yu-Ju’s aunt and uncle live in the large city outside of the park so we had a traditional 10 Course Chinese Dinner in one of the private dining rooms with them and their friends.  And, of course they thought I ate hamburgers everyday so they were concerned that I might not like the food.  I assured them that I don't eat hamburgers unless the bun is replaced with two slices of lettuce.

So now lets start with the play by play:
  • First, various people in our party brought two whole bottles of distilled Taiwanese liquor and one bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label.  Yu-Ju’s parents and I had just met that day (see right), so they asked me if I drank.  Yu-Ju giggled, but that was just because she was being nice.  I told them, “By time I am done drinking tonight I will be speaking Chinese.”  Yu-Ju translated and they started pouring. 
  • Yu-Ju’s dad poured the liquor, Yu-Ju’s mom regulated the amount poured into the glass and then added water to distill it. 
  • Now here’s the thing, when someone at the big round table greets you and asks you to drink with them, you do not pass go, you do not collect $200 Taiwanese dollars, you just drink.  If you make the mistake of clicking glasses, as I did once or twice during the three hour meal, they say, “Bottoms up,” and you know the drill. 
  • So now the food starts coming out, and I know they call it a 10 Course Chinese Meal but I swear there are more than 10 Courses.  I think they sneak in a couple of extra soups and a plate or two of dim sum.
  • Every time something new would come out, the waitress would put it on the lazy susan and the locals would make me try it first.  Then everyone would stare at me to see if I liked it--or maybe they wanted to see if it was poisoned...kidding.  I told them that I will eat anything EXCEPT chicken feet (see above) and beef tongue without the taste buds cut off.
  • The best part about the dinner was the SHARK FIN SOUP.  And, this is when I start to feel bad for like a second.  Years ago, Tyler Palmer introduced me to that stupid fish card that placed all of my personal favorites, including but not limited to, Chilean Sea Bass, Swordfish and of course Shark on the do not eat list.  So I am sure most Chinese banquets in the US use tilapia cut into little fin like shapes, but this was the real thing and it was AWESOME..

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