We arrived in China on January 28, 2013 (Caleb's birthday). The day after we arrived, our new friends* took us out to dinner at a local dumpling place. I don't have any pictures from that night but I remember a few highlights.
1. It was freezing. Freezing. And, we were walking outside for what seemed like forever. It wasn't, but it was cold and we had no idea where we going, so it felt interminable. They led us through a maze of alleys, constantly cautioning us to watch where we stepped. There were hoards of people swirling around, despite the bitter chill. And the pollution was so bad you could taste the air. Not our best introduction to life in Beijing.
2. We were deliriously tired. Isaac even fell asleep over his plate. Sound asleep. I remember feeling more exhausted than I had ever felt and the burden of trying to make conversation with utter strangers was almost more than I could bear.
3. The food was good (though not all of it was immediately recognizable) and everyone (except Isaac) ate, but it was even freezing in the restaurant (we never took our coats off) and all I could think about was getting back to our new, climate-controlled home and our borrowed beds and linens.
4. Learning Chinese, even a little bit, was going to be HARD. We were definitely not in Kansas anymore and all sense of the familiar was gone. As it happens, that wasn't entirely the case, but at that moment, it felt like we were a million miles from anything and everything we knew.
1 year later, we commemorated our arrival in China with a meal at the same restaurant. It has become one of our favorite restaurants and we have been there many times. They specialize in dumplings, in hundreds of varieties, and the kids could eat dumplings all day long every day if given the option so they love it.
We were much wiser on this visit than on our first visit and knew the restaurant was just a short walk from our apartment building. We knew to ask for an interior table nowhere near the door so we could take off our coats and eat in relative comfort. We knew to bring spoons and forks for our children who aren't quite proficient with chopsticks, yet. We knew what to order and definitely what not to order. And, we knew to remember to bring the camera.
We can't believe we have been in China for a year already (actually, as I write this,
we are closing in on 2 years!).
Claire loves her rice!
One of their claims to fame is colored dumplings. The filling can be anything you want and everything tastes better wrapped in orange, green, or purple!
Two very happy boys!
Come visit, we'll take you to eat here. You'll love it!
*One of the services the US Embassy provides each new family is a sponsor. The sponsor is available to answer questions and provide perspective and advice in advance of your arrival at post. They make your beds and unpack the temporary kitchen supplies and bedding supplied by the embassy and they arrange your first meal, whether it is home cooked, take-out, or a trip to a neighborhood establishment. We were lucky enough to be assigned really helpful sponsors who did us the great favor of introducing us to one of our very favorite places to eat anywhere in the world.