Thursday, January 7, 2010


You could write a book on Chinese banquets, and probably someone has. But I'm leaving tomorrow for my loonnnng winter holiday, so I don't have time to write you a book. Here is the short version of our Christmas banquet, given by the university for all the foreign teachers.
  • Arrive.
    • Oohh and ahh at the decor, especially the 32-person table (biggest in Qufu!)
  • Wait to be told where to sit.
    • Most important person (college president) furthest from the door,
      • Least important people closest to the door.
        • I was quite close to the door.
  • Introduce yourself to the person next to you.
    • Ask if he is a teacher at the other campus.
      • Oops! He is one of the important officials in charge of foreigners.
  • Start nibbling at the pig ear and other appetizers.
  • Get served a dizzying array of dishes; try a little of each one.
  • Wish that they would give you more crunchy roll-up things -- mmm!
  • Use plastic gloves to pick up a bone of pork and gnaw away.
    • Get out camera; 32 people donning gloves
  • Keep a weather eye out for toasts.
  • The formal toasts begin; grab your juice or alcohol and go bottoms up.
    • Halfway through, begin milling around toasting others in the room.
    • Toast the most important people first.
    • Don't let your glass go empty!
    • Return to your seat.
  • Finish with a few speeches.
    • Be prepared to be asked for an impromptu speech.
      • (My teammate was.)
  • Polish off the meal with some fruit.
  • Go your merry way.
Funniest moment of the banquet: The Japanese teacher, a rather comical old guy, had been toasting heartily throughout the meal. Each toast was accompanied by a shot of strong alcohol, and soon he was completely sloshed. The director asked him for a speech at the end of the meal. He chuckled, stood up unsteadily, threw his arms open, and yelled, "Wo ai ni!" ("I love you!") and sat right back down.
I'm pretty sure it was directed at the row of pretty foreign teachers sitting across the table. Lucky them. :)

1 comment:

  1. You're important!!! Maybe just not in Qufu at a banquet table.