Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chinese Wedding

A few days after Christmas Michael and I were able to escape our little monsters (THANK YOU, MIOW LIN!!!!!) and attend the wedding feast of some kids from church. They were actually married a year ago, but they moved to BYU-Hawaii right away and for some reason there was never a formal affair. The groom is from an Indian family, but apparently this event was all about the bride (whose family is Chinese) because the whole thing was done Chinese style. Which, for my intents & purposes, was perfect because I already blogged about an Indian wedding. I'd hate to get all repetitive here.

So Michael & I went a little early and had fun walking around City Square Mall which is nearly abandoned because it is being renovated (translation: completely demolished) in a few weeks. We found a tiny shop with Chinese curios and bought an awesome green vase and some souvenirs for the guys in our family and then quickly made our way to the Flower Drum Restaurant, where the reception was being held. Now, having lived here for so long, we should have known that it wouldn't start on time. We always know that NOTHING starts on time. Ever. We even snuck munchies into my purse in case we had to wait 2 hours like we did at the last wedding. But we still decided to show up on time. Here's why: the invitation asked us to be there at 7:00pm SHARP. Seriously, it said that. But, of course, here is what happened:

And it was at least another 45 minutes after taking this picture before anything even started.

A little worried at this point, I sent an SMS to our wonderful babysitter to say that we hadn't even started yet and she replied, "It's a Chinese wedding. I don't expect you back until at least midnight." Bless her. But seriously, someone should have told us that.

Oh, and here is Dolly, the fabulous mother of the groom who MADE me get an Indian punjabi suit to wear to a Chinese wedding. She's wearing a gorgeous sari, which is infinitely more formal than my punjabi suit, and she looked fabulous as the mother of the groom.

The punjabi suit is basically a long top (about to the knees) with leggings underneath. Here is a better picture of the design.

It's also supposed to have a sort of scarf with it (I think it may be called a "pantar"??? but I need to verify that), but I had my suit made in only 3 days by a woman whose only English were the days of the week and the number 35 (the amount in Ringgitt that she charged me). That is an entirely different post for a different day. Long story short, I didn't get my scarf.
But anyhoo, if I could ever get away with wearing it anywhere, I would totally have a sari made. Unfortunately, I believe you also need a degree in Engineering to tie the thing. Apparently it's quite a process. I think she only demanded that I wear the punjabi because she didn't want to be the ONLY Indian influence at her son's wedding feast. One of my favorite lines of the night came when we told her the menu looked delicious (menu picture below) and she screwed up her nose at me and said, sort of disgustedly, "It's all Chinese food," and walked away. Michael and I laughed for 10 minutes after that.

So we were pretty excited, looking at the menu, and deciding what we'd each order so that we could have tastes of each other's plates, when our friends the Friends (heh-heh, I bet they never get tired of hearing that) informed us that we would be receiving the ENTIRE menu. NINE courses. Whoa, maybe we should have held back on those munchies.

And these are the Friends...Tracy had also been politely coerced into wearing a punjabi so at least we had each other.

(At some point in the evening they informed us that their kids had received Rock Band for Christmas, at which I squealed impolitely and almost fainted...but they must have forgiven me because they invited us over later to play. We accepted. It rocked.)

Anyway, in case you can't read the small print way at the top of the menu, the first course is translated as "Flower Drum Five Happiness" which was pretty correct because it was all happiness and yumminess. Each platter was served for our entire table of 9 people, none of us Chinese. I don't remember what ANYTHING was (the dangers of blogging too late after the fact) but the one on the right is sitting on a sort of sour bread that was fabulous and I think the bottom one was pork. Nice appetizers.

This next dish is "Braised Shark's Fin Soup with Eight Treasure Seafood"...not sure what the eight treasures are, but this was a surprisingly tasty & rich soup. If there are any environmentalists reading this please don't send me any hatemail. I didn't order this, it was just brought to my table. And I wanted to try it. So sue me. (Just kidding, please don't.) Knowing there were SEVEN MORE COURSES ahead I found it sufficient to sip about a quarter cup, just to say I had tried shark's fin soup and wait for the next dish.

Next up on the list, "Barbecued Suckling Piglet in Hong Kong Style" which initially had me drooling because I am deprived of pork too often and now crave it constantly. However, upon arrival of the dish I sort of lost my appetite for it.

If the glassy eyes weren't enough, check out this killer profile.

Honestly, the look wasn't enough to deter me, but once we started turning over those nicely sliced pieces, we realized someone had removed all the meat--on PURPOSE. That's right, just a nice plate of pig skin and fat. Now, I am the first to admit that skin & fat are absolutely desirable on a piece of meat. They add invaluable flavor to a dish. But the flavoring isn't supposed to be eaten on its own! Period. We only hoped that this meat wasn't wasted but perhaps used in our first dish with the yummy pork appetizer. Our Chinese friends at the neighboring table were thrilled, however, when they realized we were not going to finish this delicacy and so were only too happy to pass it over. I'm pretty sure they literally licked the platter clean.

We were extremely pleased with the next dish on the menu: "Steamed Pomfret with Superior Soya Sauce". This fish was amazingly tender and flavorful. As a plus, I didn't find a single bone, which is sort of a pet peeve of mine when eating fish. Or any meat, for that matter.

"Deep Fried Tiger Prawns with Butter and Garlic"...how could you EVER go wrong with this? I am positive I ate more of these than anyone at the table, and that included two grown men. Our table-neighbors tried to steal these, too, when they thought we were done, but I was only at a lull in my eating and nearly took off someone's hand when they got near the plate. LOVE PRAWNS. I think I need a bumpersticker with that phrase.

"Braised Sliced Abalone with Assorted Mushrooms Vegetables"
At this point I was getting uncomfortably full (feeling like I had just eaten my weight in prawns) so really only nibbled on some broccoli.

"Fried Rice with Assorted Meat in Lotus Leaf"...that pretty well sums up this rice dish (and I was so full by this point that I could hardly eat another thing, much less a RICE dish) but if you know the wonderful, floral flavor of lotus, you'll know why I ate it anyway.

And for dessert? How about some "Sweetened Red Bean Paste with Glutinous Dumplings" (shown at top of photo in the tureen & bowls) AND "Sweet Double Delights" on the plate. The round balls on the left of the plate are one of my favorite little treats, a sort of sweet, fried dough rolled in toasted sesame seeds. The flat bread on the left wasn't nearly as good, tasting more of cooking oil than anything else. No matter, the sesame balls were the perfect end to this (overly) satisfying meal.

And to finish everything off, I WAS going to post a video showing the "toasts" made to the bride & groom...but after 5 FAILS with the uploading I'm tossing it. But I will tell you that the toasts consisted of the bridal party visiting EACH table in the hall one by one (with probably at least 25 tables in total) to basically play a drinking game. Everyone would shout progressively louder & louder, end with a hurrah, and take a shot. Good times. And this was AFTER dinner, so people had been drinking for about 3+ hours by this point, and I'm sure most guests were completely hammered. This prompted our other favorite quote of the night...one of the emcees stood up and said:

"Remember, don't drink and drive! But if you HAVE to drive...DRIVE SLOW."

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. (*wipes tear*)


  1. Thanks for posting our fun night!!

    I have to make some corrections/additions though...

    Dolly specifically asked us to come so that we would wear our punjabi suits. She demanded that we wear them!

    When I asked Dolly what time the reception started (before the official invitation) she said 7. "But you don't have to be there until 7:30." she told me. :)

    Dolly's son is half-Chinese. Her late husband was Chinese.

    I actually liked the pig skin. But only the crispy parts. :)

    I can't believe how many prawns you ate!! I hated peeling them. They were COVERED with stuff - over the shells! Too messy for me! You have truly converted to eating with your hands. I had to go to the bathroom to wash my hands TWICE trying to get rid of all the gunk on them from the prawns!

    The abalone had tofu with it also. Both have about the same mushy texture.

    Thanks for not mentioning/uploading our 'dance.'!

    Great blog!

  2. Oh wow! I would eat all of that. I love fun, exotic food. I envy you guys. We are now boring suburbanites and have menial, monotonous lives. I prefer adventure...live it up!

  3. Erin, your blog is truly entertaining. I love the humorous spin you place on "ordinary" mundane things!