Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gin & Tonics, black bean Pork Chops

During the day i got to see two incredible museums, made a cab driver friend and spent a nice day among artifacts and the like. But, i suspect my readership could care less about such things, so instead i wanted to share with you all my adventures in the "friendship switching club" tonight.

Despite the fact that i am coming down with a cold of some sort, or is otherwise affected by the air quality in Xian (horrible.. worse than LA by like 14x); i decided it was my duty to check out the nightlife in Xian. There are several clubs here in the city, but from the outside they are a bit intimidating. They all feature lots of security, and a red carpet, or archway that appears to proclaim each customer as royalty. I am not comfortable with being dubbed royalty, or at least need to be dubbed supreme ruler so i can ignore the trappings of royalty, but nonetheless for you loyal readers i'll face anything. I went through the archway and was immediately greeted by several security personnel and a metal detector. I passed through and was dreading trying to figure out the cover charge amongst loud music and a throng of people, instead i was greeted by a young woman dressed in white, with fur trimmings who guided me over to a table and what at first appeared to be a bartender. He showed me a menu of drinks which included "Ballantines" a whiskey i thought extinct for the last 30 years, and several other drinks such as chivas, and the like. I settled on a Seagrams, and ordered what i thought was a gin and tonic. The "Bartender" asked me several questions, all of which i tried to ignore and pretend that i was too cool to answer. He left, and i started to notice a few things.

1) This was a nightclub, but nonetheless, no one was really dancing. There were people standing by their tables and sort of moving, but no large dance area.
2) Everyone had a plate of fresh fruit in front of them.
3) People were all sharing a pitcher of liquor and a bottle was placed at their table.

After remembering a story i heard from my korean friends i realized i was i made a mistake... and it was made clearer to me when my "bartender" returned with a large plate of fresh fruit and who opened a 750 of Seagrams, several cans of tonic and started to mix a large pitcher of gin and tonics. After he set the pitcher down, i realized that i just paid for an entire bottle of seagrams (300 RMB or about $35) and was going to sit/stand by myself.

I proceeded to pretend that i was either an alcoholic or some clever ladies man who was going to entice women to drink with me... too bad that no women were by themselves, and i was left with a pitcher of gin and tonics. I did my best to finish about a 1/3 of the bottle and gave the rest to a lively group next to me. I spent more money on that single gaffe than i did for the past 2 days, so i guess it wasn't such a bad deal.

Some observations i made while swaying to the music myself.

1) Chinese people can't dance. I always thought we had some innate rhythm, but man oh man, was i wrong.
2) I was probably the only person in the place who could actually understand any of the lyrics being played, there were Justin Timberlake songs, Beyonce, and even some old Ace of Bass, i was the only one who actually sang along.
3) apples do not go along with gin and tonic.. but cherry tomatoes are delicious.
4) Remember seeing those euro men at dance clubs not dancing, swaying to the music, and trying to look like they belonged, but not quite succeding? I was one of them, only i was alone, and had even less success with the women.

After the night club i went to get some late night food and was looking forward to getting some noodles with dumplings. Alas, i stumbled into a "china and western" dining establishment. The chinese part apparently did not include any dishes i could order, and instead after showing me a picture menu, i ordered a skillet pork chop dish. At first i was reluctant, since, hell why fly 7K miles to have porkchops? But i decided the trick was figuring out what the people of Xian thought that porkchops were and what a "western" meal consisted of. I was not dissappointed.

I first tried to order hot tea, but was told they didn't have any.. i tried to hide my complete disbelief, but nonetheless eventually ordered some coke. Not more than 5 minutes passed where i was given a small salad, 2 hot chinese sesame buns (mmm!), and... a cup of hot tea along with what was described in the menu as an apertif, which smelled suspiciously like a brandy. The dinner was the kicker though. On an iron sizzling platter, i was given a piece of pork that had drowned in a black pepper sauce. I don't care how the pig actually died, but the piece of meat most certainly drowned in black pepper sauce. Next to the porkchop was a single fried egg, and then rotini that was ready to crumble. Yes, i said crumble. For you my loyal fanbase, i ventured forth, ate what i could and made my way here to report to you.

Hope all is well in the land of the clean air, and bars w/o fresh fruit!

1 comment:

bing said...

Linus-

The dish you had is called Tie Ban Niu Rou (Beef on the hot iron plate!). It should not smell like Brandy though... You must try the "Yan Rou Pao Mo", the lamb bread noodle before you leave Xi'an!

-Bing