(in the style of Jeff Probst from ‘Survivor’)
By Samay Bansal, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
Where I come from, the Chinese like two things: to eat large quantities of food and to talk about the large quantities of food they've eaten. Whilst in China, I felt that it was my duty as a traveler to partake in this culture and to, therefore, order enough food for my friends and the city of Beijing to eat. We were hungry and cold but the amount of food told a different story; it suggested that we had been in war for months and that this was the first food we had seen in ages.
I probably should have known that we were asking for too much when the waitress had to ask me in both Chinese and English if were done ordering… halfway through the order. I threw caution to the wind and proceeded to order every item on at least three pages of the menu. It was safe to say that I was excited and extremely nervous for the bill.
My table had decided on a bottle of wine and, in true Chinese style, this was brought out first. The waitress opened a box and revealed this bell-shaped, ceramic, blue bottle with a wine that smelt more like turpentine than anything else in the world. I opted out of drinking that evening but my table-mates assured me it tasted worse than it smelt…
I find that hard to imagine…
Anyways, back to our order! The first few plates of food came out and everything was hot and delicious. The pork tasted fresh and flavourful, the buns were steamed beautifully, the duck was divine, and the sweet and sour pork stole the show. Quickly, however, our food began to catch up with us! We needed to stack dishes on top of others to fit them onto the spinning circle. The dishes jutted out so far that every time we spun the table, it would knock into our plates, cutlery, and cups.
As the food got colder, we tried to motor through as much as we could but realized that there would be no way to finish all of this food in this lifetime. I then turned to the waitress and said ‘Due Bu Xi, Ta Pao’ - in Chinese, that means ‘excuse me, take away?’, but to me it felt something more similar to ‘Excuse me, you were right. The meal has defeated us. Please allow us to gather our dignity in little plastic boxes and walk away.’