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liuzhou

Cindy's wedding - A typical Chinese wedding banquet

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For the last several years Cindy's* job has been to look after me. She takes care of my residence papers, my health insurance, my travel, my housing and associated repairs. She makes sure that I am supplied with sufficient cold beer at official banquets. And she does it all with terrific efficiency and great humour.

 

This weekend she held her wedding banquet.

 

Unlike in the west, this isn't held immediately after the marriage is formalised. In fact, she was legally married months ago. But the banquet is the symbolic, public declaration and not the soul-less civil servant stamping of papers that the legal part entails.

So tonight, along with a few hundred other people, I rolled up to a local hotel at the appointed time. In my pocket was my 'hong bao' or red envelope in which I had deposited a suitable cash gift. That is the Chinese wedding gift protocol. You don't get 12 pop-up toasters here.

 

I handed it over, then settled down, at a table with colleagues, to a 17 or 18 course dinner.

 

Before we started, I spotted this red bedecked jar. Shaking, poking and sniffing revealed nothing.

 

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A few minutes later, a waitress turned up and opened and emptied the jar into a serving dish. Spicy pickled vegetables. Very vinegary, very hot, and very addictive. Allegedly pickled on the premises, this was just to amuse us as we waited for the real stuff to arrive.

 

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Then the serious stuff arrived. When I said 17 courses, I really meant 17 dishes. Chinese cuisine doesn't really do courses. Every thing is served at roughly the same time. But we had:

 

Quail soup which I neglected to photograph.

 

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Roast duck

 

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Braised turtle

 

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Sticky rice with beef (the beef is lurking underneath)

 

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Steamed chicken

 

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Spicy, crispy shell-on prawns.

 

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Steamed pork belly slices with sliced taro

 

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Spicy squid

 

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Noodles

 

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Chinese Charcuterie (including ducks jaws (left) and duck hearts (right))

 

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Mixed vegetables

 

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Fish

 

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Cakes

 

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Fertility soup! This allegedly increases your fertility and ensures the first born (in China, only born) is a son. Why they are serving to me is anyone's guess. It would make more sense for the happy couple to drink the lot.

 

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Greenery

 

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Jiaozi

 

There was a final serving of quartered oranges, but I guess you have seen pictures of oranges before.

 

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The happy couple. I wish them well.

 

*Cindy is the English name she has adopted. Her Chinese name is more than usually difficult to pronounce. Many Chinese friends consider it a real tongue-twister.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Thanks from here, also. Is it usual to have cellophane noodles for the noodle course? I always thought wheat or rice noodles were de riguer for the noodle course at a banquet.

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Nice pictures, and all the food looks yummy! Thank you.

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Reminds me of the banquets I used to attend when I was a kid :) Since growing up and moving to Australia, I have had no such thing! :(

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Is it usual to have cellophane noodles for the noodle course?

It's not uncommon.

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Wow! The crispy shell on prawns look especially delicious! Duck jaws? The meat from around the jaw or cartiledge? I've had duck hearts, liver and tongues before but never jaws...

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Duck jaws? The meat from around the jaw or cartilage?

Both, but mostly cartilage. Another one of those thing that the Chinese love to gnaw on - like chickens' feet.

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Would you say this is typical Guangxi cuisine? I was in Guilin recently, and it seemed they liked it a bit spicy.

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Would you say this is typical Guangxi cuisine?

 

Yes and no.

 

Guangxi doesn't really have a specific cuisine, but borrows from many cuisines.

Northern Guangxi (including Guilin) is very much influenced by Hunan and Guizhou cuisines which are very spicy.

 

Southern Guangxi is much more influenced by neighbouring Guangdong (Cantonese cuisine) and is much milder (to the point of blandness according to the northerners).

 

Where I live, and where Cindy's banquet took place, is on the cusp, but generally leans to the north in taste. Some dishes are distinctly Cantonese (the chicken and the mixed veg), whereas others are more influenced by our immediate northern neighbours. The jiaozi come from China's far north which is thousands of miles away. The steamed pork belly is from Hakka cuisine in eastern China. The sticky rice dish originates with the local ethnic minorities such as the Zhuang, Miao, Dong etc.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Well, it looks like the fertility soup (first post) works! Cindy gave birth to a boy child yesterday. Must get the recipe!

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many thanks for sharing this pics with us!

Excuse me for quoting your post (but it is the shortest). When the oranges arrive, it is a sign for you to go home !!Oh no it's not the shortest .... Jason Perlow's is.. too late.

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