Thursday, August 10, 2006

No scorpion virgins here

Today was a very blah day. Rained on and off all through, and when it rains in Beijing, it pours. I thought it was hail the drops were so big and loud against my window. Rivers ran down the streets. I stayed around the hotel all day working, perfect day for it.
This evening though I was invited out for dinner to have my first Peking Duck. (This is quickly turning into a food blog, isn't it?) The restaurant was called Quanjude, and though it was five stories tall it was already packed by 5 pm. The place is known for its great duck, but not its service. The dishes were brought out backwards, with the duck coming first. Apparently it's supposed to be the last dish. I wasn't complaining.
The duck was brought out to our table on a cart. A masked chef sliced and diced it to pieces in seconds. We ate it by dipping the pieces in a sauce and putting them into what I assume were rice paper shells. Add some onions, roll and viola.
After a while I gave up on the ceremony and just ate it straight off the plate. Melt in your mouth greasy goodness. Each Peking duck comes with a card that says how many ducks have been served since the restaurant opened in 1864. Mine was number 115,148,518. No typos.
There were a few other dishes but the one I was most proud of were the scorpions. They were of the small variety, about two inches long, with their little stingers intact. The Arachnida came on a bed of sesame seed duck and rice cakes. It took me a few false starts. I'd lift the chopsticks to my open mouth, but they'd hit some invisible wall. Finally I just closed my eyes and popped it in my mouth. Crunchy. Not much taste, surprisingly. They're supposed to be good for relieving stress. So they say.

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