When I was at the age of 12, I used to be in love with a Chinese girl for three years. I was never able to conquer her heart, but the good thing is that her brother became one of my best friends! After this first dissapointment in love, I had some Dutch awesome girlfriends, but then there was a love at first sight. More than nine years ago, I met a beautiful Chinese girl who I still adore, and even married with two months ago. She is very special and very intelligent!
After all those years, I still don’t speak Chinese and many traditional Chinese habits are still a mystery to me. I don’t understand why you have to wear specific brands to get a good reputation and respect from family and friends. And why are Chinese people giving each other a lot of money on a wedding? (there is a complete financial department to administrate who gave how much money!) Why do Chinese people have expensive cars but often have simple home furniture? Why don’t they talk openly about issues to prevent big drama in the long term? Why do they get slightly annoyed when you want to pay for your own meal in an expensive restaurant or politely refuse their overwhelming generosity? I understand it a little bit now, but this was a whole different world to me, as a Dutch guy.
Legs of a frog
What I completely understand is their food! It’s delicious and full of flavour. Sometimes the food is a little strange too. For example, they eat chicken feet! I have never eaten this before, but the Chinese love the strangely looking boney (jelly-like) meat between the chicken toes. In China they even eat dogs, or beaver-like animals that you can actually choose from the cages in front of the restaurants. I even saw someone cutting of the legs of a frog, in the middle of a street in Shanghai! In Beijing, there is a market where they sell scorpions on a stick, and I saw that they were still moving!
The Chinese food that my mother-in-law cooks is simply amazing! She is originally from Wenzhou. I once asked her, translated by one of my sisters-in-law, what the name is of the typical cooking style, but she just said: “It’s from Wenzhou”. I think the Wenzhou-kitchen is in between the Shanghai kitchen (a lot of fish) and the typical Cantonese kitchen. My favourite dish is the stir-fried lobster with ginger and garlic, but her prawns in sweet tomato sauce are also delicious! She also grows some sort of cabbage (bitter melon) in her garden. It tastes like zucchini (courgette) but it looks really fake (like plastic). And it’s so yummie!
Father and mother in law and my mom by Sebastian Quirijnen - Sensus fotografie
Sometimes, I try to make her dishes myself at home, but of course they never taste so good like hers. When I ask her if she can teach me more about her food magic, all she says is: “If you want my food, you come to my house.”