Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing my first authentic Chinese meal.  When I was younger, even the pickiest eater looked like Oliver Twist compared to me.  I remember on several occasions my mother would prepare a dish she called porcupine meatballs (basically meatballs with rice grains).  Well, rice was one of the top items on my “I will not eat this” list, and so each time porcupine meatballs was on the menu, I would precariously pick through my dish, eliminating each grain of rice and depositing it into my napkin.  This process would take hours at the least, and as my mother washed the dishes, she would patiently repeat “Two more bites, Megan.” 

Fortunately, my selectiveness has worn off, nearly completely as I’ve grown up, and I’ll pretty much try anything set in front of me…despite any side effects.  Let’s just say at lunch yesterday, my first piece of cooked eggplant was delicious…and deceiving, considering the second overcooked piece pushed the boundaries of my gag reflexes and brought tears to my eyes. 

And that was just the beginning.  The poor waitress who had to deal with ten Americans trying to order in broken, mispronounced Chinese, eventually just began to bring plate after plate of strange-looking morsels.  When a rice bowl nearly tipped to the floor due to crowding issues, I wondered if anyone knew how to say “stop” in Chinese. 


Everything was served chilled, and to my surprise there were very few vegetables, but a variety of meat including a few pieces that looked like a cross section of a very fat centipede.  One of my fellow travelers informed me that it was in fact tripe (cow’s stomach).  So I gave it a go.  A little rubbery, but once you get over the texture, all you can taste is the countless spices used to cover up whatever it originally tasted like.  Not too bad. 

Up next, fish…so tasty, although a bit crunchy with the millions of spear-like bones in each bite.  I think I may still have one wedged horizontally in my esophagus. 

Ah, fried rice, something familiar…and it’s warm! 

The best part was dessert, watermelon and kiwi.  Yum.  I was only slightly put off when someone reminded me that watermelon is in fact made up of mainly water, which we’ve been told not to drink unless it’s bottled.  Certainly not put off enough to not eat it though.  And as of this morning no terrible side effects to report.  Bon Appétit!