Chopsticks + Wine
I love food. I love every aspect of it...from chopping, cooking, baking, and most importantly eating. Some will argue that it is a love language (isn't the way to someone's heart through their stomach?). One of my other favorite things (and actual love language) is being surrounded by people I care about. When these two things are combined, my heart is happy and full and all seems right with the world. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be riding a unicorn to dinner. Just kidding. Kinda.
In an attempt to transition into cooking in this new culture, we asked a dear friend, Jiajia if she could help teach us how to prepare a few of our favorite dishes, to which she kindly agreed. So we planned a day and met up and headed to the market together to buy the necessary ingredients and called a few other local friends to invite them to dinner. While at the market we didn't ask questions, we just followed Jiajia as she navigated through and fought her when she tried to pay for said ingredients. Upon returning home we went to work: chopping, mincing, julienning, boiling, and stir frying. I took notes along the way as we helped and watched excitedly to see which prepared ingredient went where or in or with what. Let me just take a moment to tell you how amazing Jiajia is...first she agreed to show foreigners who combined barely know 7 words of Chinese how to cook four of our favorite dishes, then she maneuvered her way through the market (this girl's a boss), then she cooks not four, but nine dishes (not including rice), AND brings a bottle of wine to share...I want to be her when I grow up.
At some point in the evening we noticed that the power had gone out upstairs, so we ran an extension cord downstairs for the refrigerator and as the sky melted from light into dark we grabbed and lit candles. Jiajia finished up the last dish by candle and cell phone light. Thank goodness for a gas stove! Being that it was a Tuesday (what other reason is needed to celebrate?) and close to the lunar new year, some people across the river decided to treat us to a brief firework show which was conveniently visible from our picture window, and was made even more brilliant by our lack of power to the lightbulbs.
Tonight would have been good if it had gone as planned, but it was in the unplanned details that this evening became something momentous. So we sat together gathered around a candlelit table and laughed, and with chopsticks in hand and wine in our glasses we feasted like kings.
[click the image below to view]