One of my uncles got married today, so it was another big family day. I chauffeured my parents to San Francisco for the banquet dinner that typically follows Chinese weddings. For the record, the only U.S. city that is more awful to drive in than Los Angeles is San Francisco.
It’s really fun to share a banquet table with people who have never experienced a Chinese banquet before, especially when they’re really squeamish. “This is good. What is it?” “You don’t want to know. Just eat it.” This, of course, causes a huge stir. Even if it’s only chicken.
I think my favorite moment of the night was when, after an appetizer and a bowl of soup, the ten-year-old boy at the table was told not to eat too much.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because there are eight more courses.”
“EIGHT MORE!?” he was truly stunned. His eyes lit up in wonder.
My family’s banquet dinners are usually ten courses. A really ritzy occasion will have:
- cold appetizers of jellyfish and beef tongue
- roast chicken
- roast duck
- whole steamed fish
It’s not the kind of meal where one sticks to one’s diet. If you know you’ll be attending a Chinese banquet, you either wear pants with an elastic waistband, or resign yourself to unbuttoning your pants for the car ride home. Oh, but if you’re a vegetarian, then you’re going home hungry.