Monday, October 4, 2010

October 3rd: Fish for Sunday Dinner

 The long-awaited fall cool-down came to us over a week ago, but we haven't been able to enjoy it too much as it brought with it a solid week of drippy drizzling.  Today, however, was one of those crisp, clear, brilliantly sunny perfect fall days.  I wished I was hiking in the woods; the urge to be outdoors was nearly irresistible.

It was a good Sunday, following the normal pattern: in the morning, Rebecca, Season, and I headed over to Ron and Evelyn's house on the south campus for a morning meeting.  After the meeting, most weeks we all go out to eat together.  Eleven people gathered around two pushed-together tables in the small back room of a restaurant across from the south campus.  It was crowded, but the more the merrier when we can share good food with good friends.  The main dish was grilled fish.  We Americans tend to have quite a disconnect between animals and food--we buy our meat clean and packaged in plastic from Kroger's; it's easy to disassociate it from the animal it used to be a part of.  No such thing  here.  Just inside the doorway of the restaurant there was a tub of water with a board over top of it.  Jordan, one of the Chinese brothers, translated Ron's request for fish.  The restaurant owner lifted up the piece of plywood and plunged his hands into the murky tub, and came up with a squirming ten-pound fish.  "Bigger!"  So he dropped the first fish unceremoniously back into the water and scrambled for another.  The third pick met the requirements, so he tossed it over his shoulder onto the sidewalk by the door.  It gasped in the sun as we filed past to find a table.  The owner's daughter squeezed past us with a meat cleaver in hand.  Twenty minutes later, we had a perfectly grilled fish, with a marinade of onions and spices, in the center of our table. 

As everyone else settled in at the tables, Ron, Jordan, and I held a conference in the kitchen with the owner.  Jordan is Chinese, so he could write our order down for us--here, generally you write your own order on the pad of paper instead of the waitress doing it.  Ron has the idea that I'm good at ordering food, so I have now been promoted to the ordering committee at most meals.  My Chinese is still on a just-getting-by level, but I have learned how to say several of the normal dishes.  Today was a wonderful meal: besides the fish, we had a plate of sweet and sour pork, two plates each of eggplant and cabbage, potatoes and onions, scrambled eggs and tomatoes, lotus root, and a super-spicy version of chicken and peanuts.

Another Sunday dinner, a couple of weeks later than the one I'm talking about.  Of course, I should have got the shot before we ate all the food...

I spent the afternoon doing some stuff for BW's birthday, and then we had a meeting at Colonel and Kelly's at five.  The singing seemed especially wonderful today--several of my favorite songs.


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