On Thursday evening we were invited to Mr. and Mrs. Zhao’s home for dinner. Mr Zhao is one of the Vice-Principals at the Chinese school and the one I work with the most in terms of administration. They live in our building just 3 floors down. Mr. Zhao is quite fluent in English but his wife speaks very little. However, we were able to communicate over the language of food.
Mrs. Zhao had already made the filling so not sure what was in it except that it was excellent! The taste and texture was similar to Japanese gyoza. Dinner overall was very tasty. The sticky rice had bean paste inside and some sweetish liquid around it–terrific. Lots of choices and of course we tried everything. Notice that I am wearing my winter jacket and scarf. This is because it is cold in their apartment. They knew that I would want my coat so they did not offer to take it when we first arrived. Good thing, too, because I put it back on pretty quickly. No problem making dumplings wearing it!
We learned about names as well as food and that elders and people in a position up the hierarchy are addressed by their family names; therefore, I am Ms. Watt to Mr. Zhao and Mr Xu, the Chinese principal, is always Mr. Xu, to everyone in the school. Mr. Zhao and I may be on a first name basis now, but not at school. I am now “Elder Sister” to Mrs. Zhao, whose name is pronounced Shouw Ming (but not sure how to spell–could be Xiao Ming). I’ve never had a sister so that’s pretty nice, but not sure I like being the eldest! Here’s the menu:
It will be interesting to see how they enjoy our food when we return the invitation. We are having our other neighbours, Tina and Klos and another couple, over on Saturday and hope that they will like our appies of smoked salmon on crostini, winter soup and main course of my famous cumin encrusted tenderloin with jalapeno sauce. Don’t know what we are doing for dessert yet but I’m sure Geoff will come up with something great!(Ed. note: Pear-Apple Crisp with Ice Cream). It is quite an interesting challenge to cook for people of another culture as we can’t be sure about what they like in terms of textures and flavours; we think anything is fine as long as there is some selection and lots of it. They don’t seem to be too pressed about eating the food when it is hot, so we will have to try to pace ourselves accordingly. Mr. Zhao didn’t eat much at all while we were essentially pigging out. We were told that it is a compliment when you eat a lot of what is put out, so we are going with that! By the way, the dumplings and sausage were outstanding–both specialties of Harbin, their home town. (Ed. Note: We are seriously considering visitng Harbin next February – click on the link to see why).
Geoff came to Tina’s rescue a few moments ago. She needed help putting together the baby stroller she will need in a few months when her baby comes. 10 minutes later he was back, job complete, then came to my rescue and headed off to school to take my Monday evening class to the lab. So here I am, all cozied up on the couch with my glass of wine and laptop, writing this blog.
We have a number of things to look forward to–our first dinner party in China, our first Open House, put off for the second time and now scheduled for Jan. 20th, and a Chinese New Year’s party at the school on Jan. 19th, starting at 5:18pm. Not sure of the significance of the time but we will be sure to make it! After those events, it is mid-term exams, report cards and holidays. Think I’m going to make it.