Yesterday, we were invited to Chinese New Year's dinner at Auntie's house. She lives in a lovely little apartment a short walk from the school. She has a husband and a two children, a son 17 and a daughter 22...I wonder what it is like for them to have their mother live away from home much of the time, as she is the one who takes care of the students who live at the school.
We sat down in front of an end table full of Chinese New Year candies and nuts. There were macadamian nuts in their shells with a little device for taking them out, pistachios, sunflower seeds, chocolate coins, something like a starburst called sugurs, figs in pretty wrappers, and my favorite of all, a pretty pastel wrapper that revealed what looked like a large chocolate kiss...but inside there was hard sugar and a liquid. I have no idea what the liquid was...but it was good (and messy the first time, when I did not expect it. Auntie noticed that I liked those and gave me the rest of them...about four...when I left. They are in my pocket now. I may eat one.)
We watched a show about a fairy...looked like a normal person but had magic powers...who helped a blind man and then one about a boy fairy who helped a nerdy girl. They were cute and reminded me of old fashion American TV from the 60s and 70s.
There there was a huge feast cooked by Auntie's husband. It was amazing. At least eight or nine dishes, as massive as Thanksgiving.
I sat down and was, as often happens, immediately given a huge helping of the least appitizing thing on the table. I never did eat all of it.
I tried everything except the dish that was actually cooked hot peppers. Some of the dishes were excellent. Two, the snow peas and the fish, looked like something you might have in America...except that it was all of the fish, head and all. The rest were distinctly Chinese. One was pork with huge, huge pieces of fat attached. I could not tell if we were supposed to eat the fat. I decided not to.
But...several of the dishes were VERY HOT!!!!!!!!
My mouth caught fire, or so it seemed. My cheeks must have burnt, too, because there were several comments about how red they were during the meal. My eyes teared.
Luckily, I had a glass of Pepsi. That helped cut the heat.
I was offered wine and something else...Whiskey? Vodka?...and had Ping-Ping explained, when I first refusal was not accepted, that it was against my church. Ping-Ping tried to tell me that everyone drinks alcohol in China for Chinese New Year...I tried to explain that the fact that Daddy and UBill and I do not drink is not an American thing...it is a matter of our personal choice. This was far too complicated to put across on the spot. I took Pepsi instead...which is why I had some now to throw on the fire.
It took about three of the relatively small cups to be able to continue eating.
Other than that, though, the food was excellent! My favorite dishes were a beef dish with a bit of greens and the potatoes cut into fine strips almost like noodles that Ping-Ping and Ling Shan also make.
I was so touched and honored that they invited us.