Skyped with my entire family in the morning who were all visiting for Thanksgiving. Kept too busy to get homesick as we went on a mission to buy ingredients for our own Thanksgiving dinner. A bunch of people were coming over and we were excited to show our American friends Thanksgiving from the north (on the proper day of course).
It was raining, a cold drizzle that seeped right through the bones. We got soaked as we walked from shop to shop raiding all of the foreign food stores for appropriate ingredients. We picked up cheep umbrellas which cut down on the misery only slightly. We couldn’t find everything we wanted, so we had to get a little creative. We ended up getting dried cranberries in place of cranberry sauce, which we later attempted to boil into a sauce. We added flour as a thickener and our cranberry concoction ended up a lovely shade of pink. In place of gravy we found cream of chicken soup. Looked ok from the picture on the outside of the package, but when we opened it up we found it was full of little noodles.
Now we had done our research and there was no way we were going to get a turkey (which are non-existent in China, though much later in our trip we were told a story about a man visiting on business who was served one for Thanksgiving dinner, and when he inquired where his host could possibly have found the bird they’d answered a little guiltily “from the zoo”). Instead we figured we’d serve one of the delicious looking roast ducks we saw turning on spits all over the city. This we would purchase last so it would be as hot and fresh as possible, though we did think ahead and picked up a crock pot to keep it warm in. These birds were literally cooked around every corner of the city, or at least they were on every day other then Thanksgiving.
We’d dropped our purchases off at the apartment. We had just enough time to run out and pick up a bird before we’d have to set about cleaning our place and preparing the food. Back out into the rain we went, brandishing our newly bought umbrellas like waterproof swords. We walked strong and determined down the street to the small market near our mountain. No ducks. We asked every single shop owner using Nate’s tablet as a translator. Each one sent us farther down the road, but still no ducks. It appeared that the plethora of duck salesmen had suddenly packed up and left over night. We were running out of time and still needed to do a full house cleanup.
Nate said he knew for sure there would be ducks by the school. He waved down a cab to take him there as I hurried home to make our apartment presentable. I cleaned in record time, and just as I was finishing up Nate returned triumphant, duck in hand. The person he bought it from had chopped it up China style bones and all, so we just had to rock it and throw it in the crock pot as is.
Sonya and her friend Lina were the first to arrive, everyone else showed up “fashionably late”. When Damian arrived next I asked Sonya if she wanted to come with me to meet him. To my surprise she said no, “We were supposed to play basketball,” she explained, “and we were supposed to meet at 5:00pm, and I went to the court and he wasn’t there. I tried calling him and texting him, and no answer, and then he asked me at 7:00pm if I wanted to come to Quan Chen Square and I said as you know I played basketball earlier today and I am very tired so no I can’t come. So it’s just kind of like fuck yooouuuu!”
I couldn’t help but start to laugh, “What did you say?”
“No no no,” Sonya laughed, acting all innocent.
“What did she say!?” Nate piped in from the kitchen.
“I think she just said fuck yooouuu!”
Well after that I purposefully took my time going out to collect Damian. He was pretty subdued for the night anyways. He’s also got beef with Amy, though I’m not sure on the entire story, so he mostly kept to himself.
We finally had dinner around 7:00pm when everyone was gathered except Amy and her boyfriend who arrived a little later. “Ok everybody!” I yelled over the voices, “Lets eat before everything gets cold!”
“Wait wait , we have to say grace.” Katrina, who is very opinionated in her atheism, shouted as a joke.
“I’ve got one!” Nate called out. Amid smiles and laughter we grabbed hands and made a semi circle around the table and through the living room (it was more of a semi amoeba as we made do with the small space) “Now I lay me down to sleep, fooled you lord it’s time to eat.”
“AMEN” everyone shouted. Paper plates were passed around and everyone scooped out generous portions of potatoes, ducks, sides, and “salads” (sliced tomato with pepper that took all of Katrina’s culinary skills to prepare). We all tackled the challenge of eating sloppy mashed potatoes with chop sticks in our own way.
“How do you like it?” I asked Sonya, who’s only experience with western food so far had been the cheese we’d forced her to try.
“I think it is good.” She replied, “Very derishous.”
I laughed at Rose’s expression (who’d shown up later) as she bit into Amy’s peach cobbler. Apparently she was not expecting sweet, which is not a common flavour in Chinese culture.
After dinner out came the cards and the bijou. We had two bottles at 54% alcohol content to go along with a bottle of Malibu, and five bottles of wine. No one was wanting for booze. We played “ring of fire” aka. “kings cup”, with a weird combination of Canadian, American, and British rules. The Chinese girls opted to drink juice, but played anyways. Lina’s never have I evers were “never have I ever been drunk”, and “never have I ever been on a train”. To our surprise, after the game, the Chinese girls got into a bijou war where they attempted to pour liquor in each other’s cups! Somehow I ended up with all of the bijou…
Everyone started trickling home around 1:00am. It was time to crash as I’d be up skyping again early the next morning.