Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Imperial Meal!

Today we had a really wonderful day with some great friends! When we first moved to China we used a realtor to help us find our apartment. Not only is our realtor Renee an amazing businesswoman but she is just an amazing woman in general! I am so thankful to have met Renee... she is one of the warmest, friendliest person I have ever met and really played an instrumental role in helping us get settled here in Beijing. Ever since we first arrived she talked about taking us out to lunch and introducing us to some of Beijing's specialties. Today, we met her and her lovely mother at Beihai Park where they took us to a very unique restaurant called Fang Shan.

In this picture, Fang Shan is in the middle somewhere.

As Renee said, Fang Shan is special not because it has the best food around - she admitted you could easily find better food at any of the hundreds of restaurants in Beijing. Fang Shan is special because the food you eat is food that was commonly prepared for many of China's past emperors and empresses. Many of these dishes the common people weren't allowed to eat.

She also told us really interesting tidbits, for example the yellow color of the table cloth is an Imperial color and in those days, no one but the emperor was allowed to wear it - and if you wore it anyway? Off with your head- literally!

Dish after dish was brought out, and luckily for us we had Renee and her mom there to explain what dish was the favorite of which emperor. It was so cool. I also sat next to Renee's mom and we spoke Chinese the entire time! She also kept trying to get me to eat more and more, putting food on my plate FOR me... LOL! I ate a lot more today than I would have eaten otherwise, and tried a lot of different foods that I otherwise wouldn't have tried - I just didn't want to be rude, so if she put it on my plate, I ate it! She really reminded me of my mom in that way - always trying to feed people!

This round bun with meat inside has a story that I found especially interesting. It is said that Empress Dowager Cixi had a dream one night that she was eating these buns that she had never seen before. That morning, when her servants brought her breakfast to her, she saw on the tray was the very same buns she had dreamt about! It is said that if you eat these buns, your dreams will come true. We ate two.

The group of us outside the restaurant, you can see Renee and her mom on the right.

Hilarious picture - our friends' children, little redheads, are like superstars over here. People fall all over themselves for these kids! And parents always want their children to take pictures with them. Its especially hilarious because you can always see in the 2 kids' faces how much they DON'T want to have their picture taken together!

Look at the kids' expressions - lol! And I thought this woman's headgear was really interesting, I don't know if it is for religious regions or if it is a type of ethnic dress - does anyone happen to know?

And just a picture of the beautiful park.

It was a fun day!! I'm especially looking forward to Monday, I am taking a Chinese cooking class! and later this week we are taking our first trip within China, to the Dongbei (the Northeast).



  1. Sounds like such a wonderful day, so great you've made such amazing friends already. I love reading your posts because I always learn something so neat.

    I hope your dreams come true :)

  2. wow what a cool experience!

    im having a necklace giveaway on my blog you should check out :)

  3. How fun!! I think it's so much an experience when you have locals take you on real experinces like that! And a cooking class sounds amazing! And you look supepr cute btw not all OIC (only in china) like me haha. So cool you not only know the langauge but you have met and have so many fabulous people to take you on a fabulous journey! Enjoy! Went we went over my birthday last year ( whihc I about to write a post on) our friends family prepared a feast to celebrate us beig over and my birthday. Our friend told us is was respectful to eat as much as possible lol and they heard americans liked to eat so be prepared. And they did they just piled up our plates! I'm surpiresed you haven't been asked to have pictures taken like those kids. They all loved our blue eyes and blond hair!

  4. I can just imagine how novel a "gingie" would be in China!! Hilarious!!
    P.S. Am loving following your adventures in China!!

  5. Stuck here in the Midwest, what I wouldn't give for some authentic Chinese food. Yum.

    Love reading about your experiences!


  6. Amber, I've been asked for my picture several times! but when you are out with little kids, they are the ones that grab all the attention :) especially when its 3 little redheads!

    Janice - and what I wouldn't give for a good steak and a baked potato!! LOL

    Nikosmommy - thanks so much!!

    Andi - I hope yours do too!! I'll send you a round bun thingie.. lol. OK, maybe not that, but I may do a special giveaway soon with some Chinese things... we'll see!

  7. PS Amber, can't wait to read about how you spent your birthday over here! And its IS so much cooler to have locals take you around!

  8. that is soo cool! it sounds you like you had a lot of fun! one of my friends from junior high told me a story: she was in yosemite with her family when a group of chinese tourists asked to take a picture with her. :D

  9. Omg super !
    I love this (:

  10. Hahaha I'm not surprised that those children get stopped everywhere, they have seriously bright red hair, wow! Love reading about your experiences. I've been to Beijing once. I'm your newest follower!

  11. Great pictures, and the food looks delicious!

  12. I love reading about your time in China! That bun with sesame seeds looks delicious. I see you're wearing your new bag - it's so adorable!

  13. How fun! What beautiful dishes! I hope that your dreams come true:)

    Love reading your posts!

  14. That's so funny that they like taking pictures with her! Do you get the same thing because of your blonde hair?

    The restaurant looks BEAUTIFUL...I'm am definitely a gold girl - there are so many pretty details :)

  15. What a great experience, I love trying new food! It all looks so I want to visit! :)


  16. That sounds like such a cool restaurant, and it's wonderful that you had your own personal food guides with you to get you to try all sorts of new things and give you the history behind them.

    Chic on the Cheap

  17. Kate - thanks!!

    Cafebellini - really glad to have you! I'm always flattered when people like reading about my time here. I know its kind of a unique thing and wasn't sure if people would really find it all that interesting.

    Mimi - I believe it!

    Woodlandsblonde- yep, I get the same thing, but when there are little kids around the kids are the focus. When its me and my hubby they want pictures of US! haha.

    Thanks all for stopping by and taking the time to comment!