This is probably going to be the most politically-incorrect, begging-for-nasty-comments post I'll ever write. Unless my readers can forgive it because the prompt that I was told to write about was...
SOMETHING I ATE.
We were in China adopting our 15-month-old daughter. These trips are very, very organized with a new activity, tour, and dining opp every day. Or several times IN a day. This would be okay IF you hadn't just added a new little person to your family. But by Day 10 (of 14 plus trans-world travel) you have lost interest in another Temple of The Divine Priesthood of Holy Sunshine. Especially when you are sharing this experience with ten other families who are also losing interest because their babies, like yours, are keeping them up at night in hotels where nobody understands you need stain remover for the diarrhea on your white pants.
At long last, there was a night where we didn't have to experience tasting another animal body part we didn't know could be eaten (speaking of What I Ate,...). And WE were the fortunate ones who happened to have brought along a babysitter in the form of our 14-year-old, now-no-longer-only daughter. At long last, my husband and I could eat out ALONE.
Now the China Center for Adoption Affairs wants to make the best impression on you of your child's birth country, so one thing you can always count on is a top-rate hotel. We were in a 5-star Ramada while in Guangzhou. It was adorned with boutiques devoted to one Parisian designer after another. There were several top-notch restaurants. If Trip Advisor had existed a decade ago, we would have racked up tons of rating points without even stepping outside.
One of these dine-ins offered sushi of the highest caliber. (My WWII-vet dad was astounded that the Chinese would welcome a Japanese establishment on their shores. :-) ) My hubbie, being a huge fan, lined us up for reservations there, having anticipated the chance the moment we checked in as much (or more?) than receiving his long-awaited daughter.
So to say we were ready to kick back, relax, and let down our hair was like saying Hitler was ready to stroll the borders of Germany. We entered the golden-lit room and were escorted to the sushi bar, noting the large tank of beautifully-colored fish. We chose to dine at the bar in order to be entertained by the chef preparing his consumable artistry before our eyes. Overwhelmed by the menu, as usual I let my expert order. Among the various sushis and sashimis, he chose some red snapper, ordered wine for me and a sake for himself.
The wine tasted so good. We weren't usually ordering drinks at these communal "new family" dinners. The rolls started arriving and we dove in with both chopsticks. We had another round of drinks. Then the red snapper was served.
It was presented on a skewer standing up like a single blooming rose. We watched fascinated as the chef sliced off nearly transparent pieces of its side with a knife whose sharpness would make a samurai proud.
My husband, the epicurean, made moaning noises of approval at the freshness. The chef was very pleased. He sliced more. We ate more. We drank more.
We became very attached to our snapper. We were the only English-speaking people in the room and could say whatever we wanted. We decided to name our fish. We named him Sam the Snapper. We smiled at our cleverness.
Then a strange thing occurred. I thought at first it was all the drinks. The fish moved. A gill or fin did a little flap. Alcohol clouding a normal reaction of shock, we stared in wonder. The chef proffered a new slice. My husband, knowing Sushi Chef Protocol, pronounced it "Very fresh!" Yeah, no duh.
Then another glance. This time it was the mouth and it was gulping! (Vegans and card-carrying members of PETA are now excused from reading.) But did I shriek in horror? NO! I was so plastered. I even thought I should decorate Sam the Snapper. Deftly with my chopsticks, I inserted a marigold garnish into its mouth. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my barstool.
We ate a lot of new stuff in our daughter's country of origin--fried chicken feet, Peking duck served with the head on, and everywhere greens that smelled like sweaty socks--all selected by the tour guides. But none of those could hold a chopstick to dining with Sam the Snapper. He sacrificed himself that we might have a few good, uninhibited, crass, adult, American laughs before we went back to our room where the "babysitter" was coming down with tourista and room service was rocking our inconsolable little one.
Thanks, Sam. Play it again.