So, last Friday's staff lunch was hosted by a professor who took us for Dim Sum. (I don't know how to spell it) This was a brand new experience for me. I got a major dose of culture shock to say the least. In the car ride to the restaurant, I asked about what this might entail and learned that dim sum is not a food, dim sum is all about the way it's served.
It seems that no amount of huge family meals could have prepared me for this. Honestly, I got in the car afterwards and breathed a sigh of relief... It was probably the most stressful and hysterical lunch hour of my life.
Dr. Tan (the professor whose idea this was) was so excited to have us and be able to show us something that most of us had never experienced before. He is native Chinese and this is normal for him. He speaks very quickly and with a thick accent. I always feel like I am at least a sentence behind when we exchange good mornings.
So this is how Dim Sum works according to my one brief encounter:
You are shown to a table and they set a teapot and cups out along with a small plate and chop sticks. That's all. No menu. Then, these waiters wander up and down the aisles with these carts, like street vendors, and they yell in their native language what they have. If your plate is empty they will fill it and then put a check on the table whether you wanted it or not. Apparently if you don't speak their language, they will just keep setting things down and charging you. Luckily Dr. Tan was in control. He spent the entire time, yelling at the waiters and trying to get to know each of us at the same time.
It went like this:
NO. TAKE THAT AWAY. NONE OF THAT. YES THANK YOU TWO OF THOSE. WHO WANTS THIS ? TRY IT YOU'LL LIKE IT. IT'S VERY GOOD. PORK. NO, SHRIMP. THIS ONE IS CHICKEN. WHO WANTS RICE. BRING US MORE RICE! I SAID RICE!
At the same time he was asking us how we are doing and how the school year is going...
So really it sounded like this:
YES, THAT IT... MORE CHICKEN. NO MORE PORK. AMIE, HOW ARE YOU? TAKE THAT AWAY. WE DO NOT WANT THAT. THAT'S GOOD TO HERE. AMIE, WHERE DID YOU SAY YOU ARE FROM? SAN DIEGO. IT'S BEAUTIFUL THERE. WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE? DO YOU LIKE THAT. I THOUGHT YOU WOULD. WHO NEEDS MORE TEA? BRING MORE TEA. THEY'LL BRING US MORE TEA... WHO WANTS MORE...
It probably didn't help that I was facing away from the aisle, so the yelling waiters and their food carts were racing behind my back. All the noise and craziness and the chopsticks made it very hard to concentrate on eating. It was hard to even pay attention to our conversation, I just found myself giggling through the whole thing.
Then, I noticed something else. Our table cloth was covered with more food than any of us actually ate. It looked like a pack of animals had made the mess. So, I looked around at the other tables, theirs were perfectly clean as if it works this way all the time.
Anyway, that's the news from my crazy lunch hour. I should learn how to use those chop sticks!