The first time I visited Shenyang the city was covered in snow and ice. I promptly slipped on the ice and injured my hand.
This time the weather is mild and the streets are dry. So I tripped on the sidewalk and injured my hand.
I begin to suspect I’m a klutz.
Shenyang is a beautiful city. I hadn’t noticed that last time I was here because the weather was so brutal. I was pleasantly surprised.
My hotel in Shenyang is not beautiful. The Sheraton Lido is an old property. The lobby and facilities have been renovated and are lovely, but the guest rooms are a bit dated and drab. It’s not a bad hotel, and is a good value, but far from spectacular.
After a day of running around Shenyang the group headed to a restaurant called Low Country Dumpling. Dinner tonight was a far less traumatizing experience; nothing I ate fought back. And for the most part the food was delicious.
The tradition at Chinese meals is to serve roughly three times as much food as its thought the group can eat. You order many dishes and everyone eats off the plates as they desire, but you never finish all of any one dish. That’s considered rude. Doing so is, in effect, telling the chef, “you didn’t bring me enough.”
No one thought it important to tell me this, so as we were standing to pay our tab I nabbed the last two pieces of a particularly delicious glazed pork dish. The room went silent. Two clients simply stared at me. My colleague tsk tsked and shook his head disapprovingly. All sat back down and waited for me to continue as a waiter placed another full plate of pork in front of me.
I was already full. I just hated to see those last two yummy bites go to waste! This was going to hurt.
I’ve decided I hate pork.
In America when I go out for Chinese food I’m adept at using chopsticks and disdainful of those who try to give me a fork. In China I’m a fumbling child with chopsticks, and nobody will give me a fork.
One of the dishes served tonight was some sort of spicy custard. I glanced around the table looking for the spoons we would surely use to eat the custard. When they didn’t appear, and I saw others using chopsticks on the dish, I decided to skip this one.
Jie Liu, sitting to my right, noticed that I hadn’t yet tried to custard dish and very helpfully scooped a healthy dollop onto my plate, then sat back and waited to see how I liked it. I had no choice. I picked up my chopsticks and began turning my custard into goo.
I poked, I prodded, I tried to use one stick to lop some onto the other. I tried pushing it up against a piece of chicken, which got the chicken messy, but didn’t get custard onto my chopsticks. Nothing I tried was working, and by now I had quite an audience. I think my hosts tried not to actually laugh out loud at my struggles. I think. If so, they failed.
I wound up with a single chopstick in my right hand and the large soup spoon in my left hand while Jie Liu tilted my plate a bit and the now-liquid substance dribbled into the spoon.
After all that, it wasn’t even very good.
I’ve decided I hate custard, too.