Saturday, October 25, 2008

When Fact Feels Like Fiction, Part III

After the long drive back from Zhujiajiao to Shanghai (think New Jersey Turnpike on the Sunday after Thanksgiving), we found ourselves in for a few treats of the evening variety. Ms. Lu directed the driver to take us to this luxury hotel. No, this was not where we were going to be staying for the night (more on that later). This was actually where we were going to have dinner together.

On the way up to the fourth floor, where this gigantic restaurant is located, we accidentally got off on the third floor and walked right into the middle of a wedding reception. Oops...back into the elevator we went...

Rather than dine in the main room (with hundreds of our closest friends), we found ourselves in a private room set off to the side, behind a closed door. There we were treated to more incredible Shanghai cuisine. This time, though, it was not the countryside interpretation. Rather, this was gourmet-style preparation. Bamboo shoots. Cured duck meat. Small pieces of steak. And the list goes on...

There was, of course, plenty of fish. In fact, the feature dish of the evening was a fish that we do not know the name of. Here's how Roy described it to us...

"There is this fish that is very rare and very delicious. It is also very poisonous. In fact, it can kill you if you eat it when it is not properly prepared. For that reason, the government used to make it illegal for people to eat this fish. Luckily for us, the chef at this restaurant is certified to serve this fish. It will be coming out shortly."

With that as the back drop, out came our poisonous friend, prepared in a dark sauce of some sort. All eyes turned to me. "Please, have a taste." What awaited me was indeed a delicious treat...a nice white fish with a great flaky texture.

Then, Ms. Lu came around the table. It turns out that the skin of the fish is the best part, good for your stomach. Ms. Lu expertly pulled some skin off the meat and dropped it onto my plate, and again all eyes were transfixed.

As I provided this form of entertainment, Z was busy keeping time. "How long will it take for this fish to kill you if it is not properly prepared?" Fifteen minutes was the answer. Hey...we're still here!

And we had one last stop to make...

~Steve

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