The Dinner Party - 儋州→海口 Danzhou to Haikou - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2005

The Dinner Party

I like to cook, but I'm usually far too lazy to do it. Even before I moved to a place with a maid and a cook I was far too lazy to cook very often, preferring to go out to eat 25 days out of 30 and spend the other 5 subsisting on things like fruit, crackers, yogurt and leftovers from having gone out to eat. It isn't so much that I dislike cooking for one (though I do) as I really dislike washing dishes. So, one of my periodic traditions since moving to China is to randomly invite large numbers of my friends over to wherever I'm living so I can cook for them. The next day I usually pay someone to come in and wash the dishes for me.

It's not that I'm insanely rich or anything like that, merely that this is a developing country, and service economy oriented things are cheap!

I'd originally scheduled my first dinner party of the season for Saturday night. Then I got the text message from the bike club about an event on Saturday. I hurriedly messaged everyone I'd invited to tell them about the change of plans and had confirmations about the change of plans when, oops, the city government of Danzhou moved the parade date. Now the parade was on Thursday. And the big ride was on Friday.

Not that it particularly mattered, because, when I finally got around to getting over to the bike shop to sign up the trip was full. The pickup truck belonging to the shop doesn't have an unlimited capacity for how many bikes they can cram into and onto it. The limit is big (huge even) but there is still a limit. And with more than thirty names already on the list I wasn't going.

So I kept the Friday date of my dinner party.

8pm Wednesday night I got a telephone call from Randy (an English speaking club member I generally avoid) asking if I still wanted to go. If I wanted to go I had to get over to the bike shop quick quick quick to drop my bike off cause the truck was being packed now. I wouldn't be posted a tour journal on a website called crazy guy on a bike if I weren't the kind of person who immediately dropped everything she was doing (which was probably nothing more important than homework) and went to the bike shop quick quick quick. Getting myself very thoroughly lost in the old Portugese section of town on the way so it actually worked out to be slow slow slow and them wondering if I was coming or not.

I had to buy my first set of riding clothes. Spandex was mandatory. I also had to pick up my helmet from the friend who stored most of my stuff over the summer. But I was going! They were going to let me go! Be at the bike shop, in the clothes, at 11:30 the next day. The bus leaves at noon.

There wasn't any time to reschedule my dinner party again. I'd committed myself to a minimum of 15 guests arriving around 6:30 on Friday night. Hungry guests. Who'd be wanting Mexican food.

Well, I had most of the necessary ingredients (having brought them from the US) and the other stuff like lettuce and meat could be bought Friday afternoon. It was all good. I couldn't possibly imagine any way that even someone as s...l...o...w... as myself could possibly take more than 5 or 6 hours to complete an approximately 100 kilometer ride.

I hadn't figured on the ride being 151 kilometers or on Rose. Pretty Rose with clear English, a sense of humor, and a lot better personality than Randy. Randy irritates me no end. And hey, her English name is the same as my Chinese name! Pretty Rose who had never once spent more than a solid hour on a bike, and who rarely spent more than thirty minutes a day in bicycle commute time. Pretty Rose who was slower than molasses, couldn't climb hills, had no sense of cadence, and no idea of how to stretch.

So when 11am had come and gone and we were barely halfway there I knew I was in trouble. I started calling up some of my friends, housemates, guests, random acquaintances, and trying to bully them into doing things like helping me shop. Please, please, puh-lease I'll love you for the rest of your natural life kind of wheedling when the bullying didn't work.

When 2pm had come and gone and we still had a long way to go (they spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for me, and then I spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for Rose) the calls, now mostly to Brian (one of my many housemates), involved requests for things like prep cooking. Cause I still thought I'd get home with plenty of time to spare.

When 4pm had come and gone I was starting to think hitchiking and Brian was starting to think murder. Gratuitous outpourings of thanks on my part changed his attitude, that and the fact that he likes cooking even more than I like cooking and the exotic ingredients that were fun to play with wouldn't have been available if I hadn't brought them from the US.

Alas, although my housemate Taka thought he may have seen avocados a week or two before, no one could find them. No guacamole to go with the rest of the spread. But we did have homemade nachos, homemade saffron rice with pinto beans, homemade quesadillas, homemade salsa, homemade cabbage salad, homemade broccoli in cheese sauce, arepo con queso, homemade baked bananas and plums in mexican chocolate sauce, and courtesy of Joe Fu, tequilla with lime and salt.

It was good. Damn good. Even with my being only two and a half weeks out from the US and not yet in a state of complete craving for this sort of food it was real real good.

Then Brian made me wash the dishes. Wouldn't let me drop the task on the maid, wouldn't even let me share the task with the maid. Icky man. I like the cooking part. Washing the dishes is terrible. Even if I weren't living someplace with a maid I'd've paid to have someone else wash the dishes for me. But, no, it wasn't allowed. It was my punishment for having gone off to play when I should have been organizing the party.

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