A Four Hour Lunch

An ode to the four hour lunch in China … Over the years, there were times when a friend would invite us for a meal on a special occasion.  You must plan for a lengthy event, and T always had to plan for a significant amount of beer.

On such an occasion in early August, it was our driver, Pan, who invited us and friends to a newly renovated restaurant in Shenyang.  We arrived and socialized, took some photos with friends, then Pan exited to make the food and beer order.  Then the nine of us sat around a large, round table with a formidable lazy Susan perfectly placed.  Dishes began to arrive and chopsticks were put to use.

There were toasts and discussions in Chinese and English.  Memories and laughter were shared.  There was sad acknowledgment that we would soon leave Shenyang, but this lunch was a celebration of friendship and food.  It was a celebration of how friendship crosses borders and cultures, defying distance with hopeful longevity.

I won’t say this is my last post about our life in China, but it is for now.  Enjoy.

Real Food

I went pumpkin hunting, and found so much more.  I always do.  I love market days.

It’s the season when cabbage and leeks are everywhere.  I’m told that, years ago, the Chinese would set out cabbage and leeks during this season to dry so they would have vegetables during the long, harsh winter.  Though we can buy fresh produce year-round now, this tradition continues.  Why wouldn’t you want to eat vegetables picked in season?   Right now, they are on nearly every landing in the stairwell, and there is a stack of cabbage outside our building too.  Once in a while, we’ll see a resident choose the best one for that night’s meal.

Let us not forget the apples.  Gorgeous apples streaked in red, yellow and green.  Perfectly crispy and slightly sweet.

And winter is coming, so the smell of roasting sweet potatoes fills the streets of Shenyang.  Choose the one you want. They’ll put it in a plastic bag and you can eat it as you walk along.  They very well may be a perfect fast food.  My latest 地瓜 purchase led me to the sweet gentleman pictured below.  For sure, this will be one of my favorite photos for a very long time.

Enjoy the pictures and beautiful food prose by Mary Oliver.

Beans by Mary Oliver

They’re not like peaches or squash.
Plumpness isn’t for them.
They like being lean, as if for the narrow path.
The beans themselves sit quietly inside their green pods.
Instinctively one picks with care,
never tearing down the fine vine,
never not noticing their crisp bodies,
or feeling their willingness for
the pot, for the fire.
 
I have thought sometimes that
something―I can’t name it―
watches as I walk the rows,
accepting the gift of their lives
to assist mine.
 
I know what you think: this is foolishness.
They’re only vegetables.
Even the blossoms with which they
begin are small and pale, hardly significant.
Our hands, or minds, our
feet hold more intelligence. With
this I have no quarrel.
 
But, what about virtue?

For more beautiful poems by Mary Oliver, visit http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/maryoliver.html.  Her poem, The Journey, is truly a work of art that speaks to me and for me.

A staple in our winter home – Potato Leek Soup from Pinch My Salt – http://pinchmysalt.com/a-hearty-potato-leek-soup-recipe-for-the-last-days-of-winter/