JournalismPakistan.com June 4, 2015
Don’t you just love going out for Chinese food? Every such meal is a tribute to originality. There is always a dragon belching fire somewhere on the walls which does great things for your appetite. Why do we assume that all over China there is a diktat that the dragon comes to dinner along with a paper kite. Then there is this unwritten rule that the menus have to be the size of tents and could house a family.
Everyone reads them with deep intent as if they were studying their SSC exam paper which is a lot of crock really because the odds are you are going to order sweet corn and chicken soup anyway. There is always one person on the table who is adventurous but even he won’t order shark’s fin soup or turtle consommé.
Be fair, when did you last say, oh I’ll have the bird’s nest and everyone else is visualizing someone climbing up a tree and shooing the birds away to grab their home for you to eat.
Then there is the great ‘chopsticks’ debate where three people will strive to be global and upstage the knife and forkers by demanding a bowl and then proceed to bore you as they demonstrate their pathetic capabilities with the overgrown toothpicks and one capricious noodle as they proceed to teach the novices.
This will be followed by the great ‘the best Chinese is in…’ debate where utterly pointless discussions will be held on memorable prawns with sesame seeds had in some restaurant where we are not at so why bother.
This will segue into the third meaningless debate led by the mandatory expert at the table who is an expert on Szechuan, Mandarin and Cantonese food and this in-depth dissertation is being conducted as you dig into your American Chop Suey and someone says, who’ll have the fried egg? Someone always says, who will have the fried egg, it is like a mantra.
Just like one person per table will have to say, one thing about Chinese, it goes down so fast, an hour later you feel hungry again. I have never been to a Chinese dinner where somebody hasn’t said just that. And then everyone marvels over this bit of culinary genius and it’s all so paradoxical, because there is always food left over, always and much is made of whether to doggie bag it or not.
Then you have visions of 1.6 billion Chinese people knocking back lychees and ice cream failing which they are dispatched to some Gulag for re-indoctrination. Even Mao’s Red Book does not mention that you are lynched if you don’t eat lychees.
And then, after all this you’ll get a fortune cookie and yours will say, you are ze generous one, you weel pay ze bill, no?
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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