Monday 22 August 2011


Chicken Claw 
I have done many diets in my life; cabbage soup, dukan, slimfast, special k two week challenge, hay diet (aka food combining), starvation and sex, skipping meal, liquid diet, sugar busters, atkins, calorie counting. None to any real success but a simple plate of chicken claw that cost all of €2 and I lost 3kg. Chicken claw is the cure for obseity plain and simple. I may well write to the NHS and tell them forget gastric bands for overweight people tell them they can have unlimited chicken claw and rice and see the weight melt off!  Anyway more about chicken claw later.

Site Visit
Today I am visiting a small site with Gary.  His command of English is better than the combined efforts of Mike and Jason although he says yes a lot less than Mike. We make it to the site in a taxi and I am grateful to be with someone who speaks Chinese.  Well this was the quickest site visit I have ever undertaken.  The security guard looked like a relic from the cultural revolution and couldn't take his eyes of me...but he kept smiling so I just accepted the fact he was going to stare.  He also allowed us to come and wait inside the security hut out of the baking sun.  It is hot at 9am in the morning and when I say hot - 40 degree hot!

The site was run by a crazy man.  That's all I can say. He asked whether the security guard had shown us the Health and Safety poster. I said no. He got on the phone and started screaming at the poor man. When I say scream like a sargeant major.  Then he started telling us about the site when he received a phone call. Gary and I looked at each other whilst the mad man started screaming and talking louder and louder. I should add that I did notice during my time in China that the mainland Chinese do talk loudly.

He abruptly put down the phone and said "government coming now to do inspection"

"Eh" I thought.

"The government come now, they come now do inspection" mad man looked panicked.

I thought to myself I don't need to meet the Chinese government officials. So Gary said we can do the site visit quickly as it is a small site. We whizzed round and were out quite quickly.

Given that the site visit was over quickly. Gary and I then spent a few hours discussing work etc.  When he asked whether I wanted to eat lunch.  I agreed and offered to shout him lunch in the hotel. Oh no he said that is too western, we should eat local. What, I didn't want to eat local but he became quite insistent.
We went to the restaurant on the opposite side of the road which looked clean and very modern. Evidently everything was in Chinese and everyone stopped when I walked in with Gary...what being the only black person I am sure they had ever seen up close and personal. Gary then asked if I ate everything. I now know when someone asks that question that is the time when you list everything you are willing to eat.

I said "well what do you have in mind?"
Gary "You like duck and fish"
Me "Oh yes...i like duck and also fish"
Gary "What kind of fish - fresh or sea water fish"
Me (I felt kind of stupid) Just fish...I like fish. [I should add I still don't know the difference - cod is a sea water fish right?]
Gary "Good and chicken claw you won't get that in Paris."
I should add at this point I have seen duck feet before but chicken claw, I didn't know what he was referring to.
He then said you try it.  He ordered everything quickly and we started to eat. The fish came first, it was pickled and tasted surprisingly good. I thought ok this may be alright.
Then came the chicken look at the picture and then imagine that being placed infront of you. If it had been deep fried maybe I could have eaten it. I didn't want to upset Gary and he said "Ros ah close your eye and put it in your mouth".  I wanted to say to Gary I've been fed that line on several occasions and it has never worked. I did put the claw on my chopstick but I couldn't put it in my mouth. I put it to my lips but it was just too real.  He was upset but said graciously that he would eat the rest and true to form he munched away as if he was eating KFC. I should add that I met a man on the quantas plane from Singapore to Melbourne who told me he too had tried chicken claw and when you crunch on the claw it is glutinous inside...thank goodness I didn't eat it then. Could you imagine if I had vomited in the restaurant.

That's it you must be thinking; oh no......

Roast duck....I love crispy duck and pancakes with the plum sauce and the shredded cucumber. DELICIOUS. Not this roast duck.  The roast duck arrived and it was quarted...very crispy on the outside. I noticed Gary turned the plate when it arrived and he said take a piece and eat it with your hands. Ok I thought. I picked up my piece of roast duck and bit into it. The meat tasted good but just as I was chewing I felt something scratch my hand. I thought what was that. I looked, I had to physically stop myself from screaming down the restaurant.  The piece of roast duck I had picked up had the head, beak and teeth all intact. It was the beak that scratched my hand.  I was shaking. I couldn't eat anymore.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Gary then launches into the following:

"Monkey taste good...especially monkey brain"

"Eh" I thought. Is this man trying to tell me he ordered me monkey. What the hell.

[Me] "Isn't monkey a protected species in China?"

Gary "Yes it is but if you order it, the restaurant can go and find it. People just keep quiet. Snake curry good too..."

I think this man must have me confused with Indiana Jones. I don't eat oxtail soup let alone snake curry and monkey brain.  All of that is bush meat and I have a very delicate stomach!

For the rest of the afternoon I felt sick and basically just had a can of coke and some bread from the hotel bar and looked at the view from my hotel room window and marveled at the town and country planning system!

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