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).