Friday, July 15, 2011

Da Bao

One of my favorite characteristics of Chinese restaurants is the way they pack your food and drinks to go. In fact, sometimes I think we get our leftovers dabao-ed just so we can watch this soothing process.

First, the waitress brings out a new pair of chopsticks, tiny plastic to-go boxes, and a plastic bag. Then she slides the food into an open box with the help of the chopsticks and allows some of it to overflow slightly. Next, the box is closed and the rest are filled the same way. Now in a very predictable way, the fuwuyuan (waitress) will place the plastic bag open on the table so that the box of food can be perfectly placed inside. And, last but not least, the bag is tied shut with two careful knots.

This process is exactly the same, no matter what province, city, or restaurant you enter. However, there are a few variations if you order something from the liquid family. For example, the other day, we ordered dapanji (one of our favorite Xinjiang dishes) to go. Now while it may be full of potatoes, chicken and other vegetables, dapanji is probably 50% juices, not to mention the size of a dish this big would probably require about 10 little to-go boxes. So the solution? This dish is loaded into three giant plastic bags to be transported home. (That was fun, Daddy, wasn't it?!)

Another of my personal favorite methods for dabao occurs at fast food restaurants. If you order a drink to-go, they don't have those drink trays that McDonalds has in the US. Instead, there are specially sized plastic bags that drink cups fit into. There are even double bags with two compartments if you order two drinks. This method really fits with Chinese lifestyle because the bags are perfect for being carried around the city rather than being placed on the floor of a car. (Although I think American parents and minivans could really benefit from the anti-spill safety net that these plastic bags provide.)

In conclusion, these observations are just a couple of the many day-to-day differences that make living here so exciting, and keep me coming back for more.



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