I went to dinner in a fancy restaurant with about 25 co-workers. Dinner was full-on Chinese. I was just calling things “round meat”, “meat with Jell-O/fat” and “meat with bones in it”. I really had no idea what anything was except the fish since you typically get the whole thing on a plate (I’m not sure if you can eat the fins). Also, meals are almost always shared. So, the table I was at had about 10 people spinning the lazy susan to get some round meat, meat with bones, or meat with Jell-O/fat.
Don’t let my description fool you. The food was really good. It was a meat festival. One of my favorites was the spicy soup with meat and vegetables. It had what looked like liver but I did not care since it was spicy. As I was chowing down on the spicy soup, someone from America asked one of our Chinese co-workers what this delicious soup was. She said it was Duck Blood soup. I guess the liver things were actually congealed duck blood. That would also explain the dark red color of the broth.
Of course, the westerners at the table flipped out. The best part is when the Chinese guys can’t figure out what the big deal is. I have to admit I do not know what the health consequences of throwing down a bunch of duck blood are so I slowed down my consumption.
After Duck Blood soup, everybody wanted to walk across the way to do some karaoke (they call it KTV in China). I have never had any desire to do karaoke; ever.
I ended up doing 2 solo numbers and a lot of backup vocals. I was not even close to drunk; I was just hanging out with Chinese and Japanese people. In America, we think of karaoke as maybe a drunken cry for attention. In Asia, these guys do not need alcohol or a low self-esteem, they just need a microphone. They love it. We entered the place and got a sweet private room. It had a huge flat screen to play the videos and computers to choose your song. Mood lighting was at our fingertips along with leather couches and a call button for snacks and beer and water.
I am not saying that I will ever ask anyone to go find a karaoke joint when I get home, but I will say that as a pastime in Asia, it is not too bad if you hang with the right people.
I am pretty easy going. I like to try new things. I never thought I would ever throw down Duck Blood soup and top it off with a karaoke session (and enjoy both). This excursion to Shanghai is definitely challenging my comfort zone.