Wednesday, July 11, 2007


There are some meals you don’t forget.

My first date with Jack was to III Forks, where I ordered the III Forks salad, the appetizer medley (with the best crab cake ever and prawns bigger than my fist), then the grilled salmon with III Forks creamed corn and snap peas. I’ve been to III Forks every year since with Jack, but that was still the best meal I’ve ever eaten.

I remember one time when I was 5 years old, my parents had made a disgusting ham and beans stew that consisted of a ham bone flavoring a white lima bean mush. It was so gross that I sat there, refusing to eat it the entire meal. When they left me there alone to stare at it after dinner was over, convinced at they could not let me win this battle of wills or I would become a spoiled picky eater whom they would never be able to tame again, I poured it down the sink drain. Being 5 years old and not as clever as I thought I was, I didn’t rinse out the sink, so I was busted by the sink-coating evidence. I still remember gladly accepting my punishment, because at that point anything was better than eating the goo. I’d probably do it again, though, if they tried to make me eat ham and beans now (they can’t though, which is one of the best things about being old). I’m not a picky eater but this one pushes my grossness limit.

On July 11, 2007, I was wishing I had a big bowl of ham and beans.

Let me set the scene for you: we’re in the mall, and Darlana and Dad are hungry and tired, so we’re looking for a sit-down type restaurant where we can relax and have a nice meal. There are four options: one of them looks much too fancy for our shorts and tank-tops. Another has no air conditioning, and the third smells like poo. That leaves us with air-conditioner place, which we decide can’t be so bad.

It was.

The problem with going to China is that everybody speaks Chinese. When you don’t speak Chinese, this poses a problem for, say, ordering off an all-Chinese menu. There are five pictures on the menu. One is of a beer. We point to that (there’s no bacteria in alcohol, and at least you know what the heck it is despite how gross it tastes). Next we look at the server, who knows 3 English words: “hello,” “chicken,” and “NBA,” and point to something and say “chicken?” She nods her head heartily. “Duay! Duay! Chick-en!” We point to a few more pictures and anxiously await the arrival of our meal.

At this point, all of the servers have gathered across the room, looking at us, giggling, pointing, whispering and playing rock-paper-scissors to decide who has to come talk to us next. One woman finally comes over to our table, pen and paper in hand.

She sets the paper down beside me and begins scribbling in Chinese characters. When she’s done, she points at the text with her pen. “Blah blah,” she says. I stare at her, for a second, and then say something like “Duuuuuhhhhhh…” Agitated, she starts writing again, the same 12 Chinese characters underneath her original 12, this time bigger. She points at it again, this time a little harder. “Blah blah blah!!” She says, louder, still pointing at the paper.

At this point I’m not really sure how to convey to the woman that I’m neither Deaf nor am I simply pretending not to understand what she’s trying to tell me. “I’m sorry,” I tell her.

She picks up the paper and shows it to Darlana, who doesn’t look any more Chinese than I do, with the exception perhaps, of her height.

Darlana stares at the paper blankly then looks up at her. “Duay-bo-chee,” she says, meaning “I’m sorry.”

The woman rolls her eyes and stomps away. Little did I know that she was simply trying to warn us not to eat anything here – to go home now and never come back.

After the beer arrived, we watched nervously as dishes were delivered to the tables around us. At one point, a woman was carrying a big bowl of mush, which didn’t look unlike ham and beans, and we looked at each other, hoping it wasn’t for us.

“Please don’t be for us, please don’t be for us…” we chanted…

She walked by. Yeessssss! We were feeling pretty good.

A few minutes later, another sever who had lost rock-paper-scissors came by our table with a plate. We saw what was on it and were instantly horrified.

“PLEASE don’t be for us; PLEASE PLEASE don’t be for us!!”

Alas, we had used our “don’t be for us” pass already. This one was ours.

On the plate sat an entire chicken, head and all, uncooked.

We rubbed our eyes for a moment, then opened them again. This couldn’t be real.

Nope, there it was. Looking up at us with its little glazed eye.

Darlana touched it. It was definitely cold. The servers stood in the corner, watching us expectantly, which made me think this must have been some kind of practical joke, until I saw somebody actually eating one of the chicken’s buddies on my way out of the restaurant later.

For lack of a better thing to do, we took a picture of it and then Dad played with its head a little bit, activating Darlana’s gag-reflex until she made him stop. They both put on hand sanitizer. I hadn’t been stupid enough to touch the chicken, but I took some anyway.

The rest of the meal wasn’t quite as scary as the chicken, but was still pretty unpleasant. There was the pork with peppers, which was eatable, crazy stew crap that we were afraid of, and dumpling with surprises inside – and not the good kind of surprise, like a party. The kind of surprise where you’re hit in the side of the head with a foul ball when you’re not paying attention during a baseball game.

After the “meal,” we paid and got the heck out of there. We were still hungry (albeit a little nauseated) so we decided to find a fast food place to pick up a burger. Kentucky Fried Chicken was out of the question. In fact, I don’t think we’ll be eating chicken for a while.


Jenn Calling Home said...

Just stopping by via Pensieve's Favorite Posts. What a sweet blog. the chicken is so disgusting. My husband has been to China 3x and has his disguting food pictures (and stories); i.e., dog carcass hanging in a meat shop. Okaaaay, don't really have a desire to go there.