Sunday, July 25, 2010

chinese for YUMMY.

johannes and i are feasting on ethnics wonders of kinshasa. who knew this place would have such culinary delights?
on the way back to the hotel there is a newish chinese restaurant with bright red lanterns and lights with DONG FANG written on the wall. we figured why not.
we enter the huge building...into a teeny tiny dining room with glass tables, and all the windows covered shut by thick curtains...we were kinda hoping for a patio but whatever. 
we quickly realize none of the staff speak english, french or german (worth a shot). all the other patrons are chinese, hunkered around various frangrant dishes and slurping out of soup bowls. we get the menu and ask if they have beer. 
beer? the waitress looks around nervous, be-er? totally confused.
she rushes outside and brings back the security guard from the parking lot and stands him in front of us. translator, i guess. 
oh oui! and he rushes to the cooler to get 2 mützig.
the menu is extensive, page after page, not organized in any particular way, but has large out-of-focus glossy photos of the dishes, their prices, and hilarious nonsensical names like "fantastic fish farm" or "towering castle of radish!"
we choke on our beers when we come across "pepered pangolin" which is a protected kind of anteater found in one of our study regions. i'm fairly certain you could get tiger if you knew how to ask but whatever. 
we pick three random things and wait. 
on the other side of the window there is what sounds like a struggling jet engine. i immediately flash back to our flight here, when i was bored of looking out the window at endless sahara desert and asked johannes to wake me up when we hit rainforest. an hour later i was jolted awake by the screams of the fellow passengers, drinks flying everywhere as we went through some pertty hairy turbulence. johannes relaxes back into his magazine "there's your rainforest!" there was a forceful shifting sound, like the engines are suddenly put into another gear and fighting for survival. you wonder what the pilot is thinking, has he done this before? you grip the seat and closely watch the face of the flight attendants for any hint of fear...anyway, the sound behind this window of our restaurant is EXACTLY the sound of those engines, including the swirling wind part, i'm having a total flashback.
i go outside to find our parking lot attendant/waiter sitting in his plastic chair and ask, what on earth is that noise?.
"those are the ovens." 
i communicate this fact to johannes who says, "that's it, ve are leaving! ve are not eating in a place where they serve elephant!!"
but at that moment our dishes, our fragrant, glistening dishes arrive, and i don't know what kind of meat it was, except that it was dark and fried and tasty and we each picked out all the shiitake mushrooms, which were some of the best ever. they don't exactly sell jars of sweet and sour sauce and chinese vegetables at the kinshasa market, this stuff has to be authentic.
what is chinese for YUMMY? 

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