Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I went to DongShi again this weekend. Saturday was a pretty long day- I observed a class in Taichung in the morning, then had to walk very quickly to the bus stop to make it to Fong Yuan in time to teach my afternoon class, then had a Performance Day where the kids' parents come to see them perform.

After that I went with Jasmine to DongShi where they were having a barbeque... no, it is not like a barbeque in the US. It was at a Filipino sister's house- she is happy to speak English! Her husband is Chinese & not a Jehovah's Witness. When I got there we walked through an orchard to the barbeque area- they kind of had a campfire going with some wire things over it (more like the baking racks you put sheets of cookies on to cool than actually a grill) with whole fishes on them.
The funny thing was, the orchard had all of these wires to hold the trees up and they were just tall enough that the Chinese people could walk under them but I had to duck, and if I wanted to stand to talk to someone I had to find a place where my head would fit through the wires. The orchards are incredibly labor-intensive- they hand-graft branches onto the trees, then go through and prune off the other branches, then tie a bag around each piece of fruit to keep the insects away.
So we sat around the campfirish thing and whenever a fish was done, everyone would just dig in with the chopsticks and grab chunks. Sometimes people would get a nice chunk with their chopsticks and give it to me... yes, that's considered very polite. It was really tasty.
People kept explaining the rest of the barbeque to me in English & Chinese and I didn't fully understand it in either language: here they took a couple of chickens and wrapped them in tinfoil, then buried them in a mound of dirt which they'd somehow made warm (I still don't understand that part). Apparently it was a big challenge because it had been raining for a few days. So later in the evening they had all these pots of soup and dumplings, and then they come out with the chickens. Everyone crowded around it and exclaimed over them- then someone took an enormous knife and just started hacking away at them. It was great entertainment for everyone. People were taking pictures. It did taste good.
One thing that is funny about Chinese culture is that they're not big on lingering around after a meal. Like there, people were cooking for hours and kids were playing, people were shooting the breeze, and even the eating took a long time. But when the eating was over, everyone just up & went home.

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