Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Chinese meal in Xi’an

I thought the snails of two days ago will do as the most challenging dish of the trip. But no, today I did better and the snails were in fact easy in today’s perspective.

When I was entering this obscure Chinese restaurant the staff displayed signs of shock to see the foreigner in their premises. But I walked decisevely because it was already 6pm and I hadn’t eaten since previous day and had been walking in this Xi’an museum for a whole day. So I just entered and sat at the table despite the look on their faces.

The menu was only in Chinese. I did not understand much so I asked them for a chicken with rice, the two being some of the few things I can convey easily in Chinese, maybe with some sketching on napkin involved. But the staff was appaled even more by this choice and started to discourage me from it, again in Chinese. Then one of the customers also joined this weird conversation, criticized the chicked too and suggested something else, which I accepted.

Soon on my table appeared a scary number of dishes, a boiling pot with some kind of soup and a frozen pack of strips of meat, like one of the frozen things from the supermarket. I had no idea what to do with all of it but at that moment there were five restaurant people standing around my table plus this helpful guest and they all started to show me how to mix the things in one pot, then put frozen meat to the soup but not let it slip into the soup, then from the soup to the mixed stuff, then from there to the rice and then finally eat it.

Hot pot in Xi'an

In the end you drink also the soup.

When I was already quite confident with my dish, it turned out that they did not cancel the chicken thing and it, too, landed on my table. And they were right, it was no eatable. Not because it was spicy, but because the chicken was in form of pieces – but pieces cut through bones and everything and then roasted. Disgusting altogether. Try to eat the thing with chopsticks. I gave up after two tries.

I finished the dish, more or less – they probably thought that I wasted most of it – and asked for the bill. The chicked appeared to have been considered a cultural misunderstanding and was not billed. I paid 20 yuan and had a goodbye exchange with everyone inside before leaving.