Today was a little more laid back to start, then ended with the proverbial “bang!” I woke up a little later (6 instead of 4) and decided to walk around the neighborhood in which my hotel is situated.
We went to the NTSC for lunch in the athlete dining hall and I worked with a couple athletes and what were termed “VIP’s.” Then we went for a celebratory dinner at Hongyuan Nanmen Shuanrou.
At the dinner were 13 people seated at the table in a private room. Four Americans, the head of the National Sports Training Center, two managers from the center, two badminton players, a prominent businessman and the chief of police. Quite a crew!
The restaurant is known for hot pot. Various meats, seafood, vegetables, and things I don’t know are placed on a huge “lazy susan” that automatically spins around the middle of the table. When food comes in front of you that you want, you use chopsticks to grab it and place that food into the hot pot that’s been filled with seasoned boiling water in front of you. The hot pot is made of copper and is heated with burners. The water boiled off so had to be replaced several times during the three hour long meal. So, essentially, we are boiling our own food to eat. Various dips were available to use as well (I don’t know what those were).
Some of the food on the table included:
- Boiled peanuts
- Not bad, I was told these are eaten like popcorn
- Two types of mushrooms (one really big and sliced, the other really thin and white)
- Various greens and lettuce
- Pickled radishes
- Cucumber-type salad
- Some type of bread/roll
- Lamb, sliced thin and rolled up
- Beef, sliced thin
- Pork, sliced thin
- Pig’s stomach, cut into sections
- Honestly, this just looked disgusting; gray, little bumps protruding from it, but others kept eating more and more of it. The way it was cut made the sections look a little like noodles when they had been boiled
- Salmon, sliced thin, sitting on ice
- To be eaten raw; I didn’t try it but wish I had
- Abalone, sliced thin, sitting on ice
- Considered a delicacy
The bolded items above were things I tried. The others . . . not so much!
In addition, there was traditional Chinese tea (not bad), a plum juice (delicious!), and some type of clear alcohol. This is the part I knew was coming and dreaded most. One of the customs is for dinner guests to form almost a parade around the table toasting each person, sometimes several times. During each toast, a drink of this alcohol was to be taken. When I was in Beijing last time, there was a huge pressure put on me to drink at one of these celebratory dinners and I anticipated similar pressure this time. The pressure was there, but I chose not to drink. During my last trip, I was asked about it and I imagine I might be again, but I am comfortable with my decision.
We headed back to the hotel and I just crashed! I had hoped to sleep all night for once; that didn’t happen, but I did manage four or five hours (that’s better than average so far!)!
OK, it’s 5:30 in the morning here . . . time for a run and then more treating, I believe I will be going to Beijing Sport University today as well.