Thursday, 20 October 2016

Food and Foot Massages!

As I mentioned, Julia and I were looked after very well during our trip by the various schools. It was the librarians at each school, rather than the teachers or heads, who had organised the trip with us, and so it was them who shepherded us around during school hours. It was also the librarians who made sure we were fed in the evenings. Some nights we were left to our own devices: a rather haphazard and random business, but surprisingly successful on the whole. Mostly though, we were either invited into people's homes for dinner, or taken out for a meal.

Two memorable evenings revolved around dumplings. One, towards the end of our stay with Sally from Beijing City International School, was the dumpling restaurant of chef Kenneth Hom.

We went out with her family and with the owner of Obido, the bookseller for the trip. The food was really lovely. What made the evening even more memorable was the way the team of dumpling makers were visible from outside the restaurant, through a plate glass wall. Sally's daughter Annabel was keen on drawing, so I thought it would inspire her if I drew the dumpling makers before we went in to eat.

People started to stop and look as usual. Then someone must have mentioned it inside, because the manager came out of the restaurant. He took a photo of me posed with the drawing in front of the restaurant then gave us a free dessert after our meal!

On another occasion, Becs from Beijing International Bilingual School invited Julia and I to her parent's home for dinner. Their Chinese home help was a dumpling making expert and enjoyed showing visitors how to do it. Again, all the family were there and we sat around a big dining table with lots of flour and pre-rolled dough. It looked easy, in the way these things do when they are not in your hands! We had mini rolling-pins, which we used to turn blobs of dough the size of chestnuts into flat disks, rolling and twisting, rolling and twisting. Mine were never exactly round. Julia was more adept. Then, after a pinch of filling in the centre, there was a nifty technique for pinching it together which, if you were lucky, looked not unlike a miniature Cornish pasty.

Everybody sat together making them until we had enough for a batch, then they were whisked away for steaming and brought back for us to gobble down. Delicious!

The other thing which made that evening unforgettable happened after dinner. Karen, Becs's mum, found out that neither of us had experienced a Chinese foot massage. 'Right!' she said and came back a couple of minutes later, having booked us in for one, that very evening! It got even more strange and interesting: Karen owned her own tuctuc, so at 8 o'clock, Julia and I climbed into the back and Karen whisked us away.

It was fabulous. the three of us sat together chatting in a small room on comfy chairs, while 3 young women gave us first a shoulder massage, while our feet soaked, then a foot massage that felt like it lasted nearly an hour. And all Karen's treat. What a lovely, generous lady! 


dinahmow said...

Oops! That was a cat. I wanted to say ...what a fabulous tri++++++++++p you had.
I+ think+ I need to jetison the cat!

I give up!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ha ha ha! I had a simlar problem trying to type getting out of the car with lots of bags this week. Lots of pictures of puppies appeard from niwhere and got posted. Note to self...