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Chinese Food

In the past I've had Chinese food that I really didn't like. Probably it was made by Americans, not Chinese. If people said, "Let's go out for Chinese", I'd think, "Let's not."

Then we went to Niger and, believe it or not, there are some really good Chinese restaurants there. Now I like Chinese food because I've eaten the authentic thing made by real Chinese cooks. All restaurants in Niger serve up "real" food--fresh, made on the spot, no microwaved frozen stuff.

We had a real treat when we stopped at my brother's recently. His wife, Lannie, and her son, Jake, are Chinese and both are really good cooks. On the way to NC we stayed with them and had really good food. But on the way back when we stayed with them, Lannie and Jake had prepared a really amazing meal that is distinct to their region of China.

Before the meal starts, everybody makes their own dipping suace. I made mine with sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped garlic and green onions, and some sort of chopped hot peppers from a bottle. I amazed myself that I made such a good sauce since I didn't know what I was doing! But Jake informed me that I was stirring with my chopstick upside down!

Then everyone sits around a big pot of boiling oil. It's not just plain oil, though. It's got all sorts of seasonings in it including huge hunks of hot peppers (if you don't like spicy food you probably wouldn't care for this meal). On the table were bowls of raw pork, raw beef, raw fish, raw tripe, quails' eggs, hot dogs, sliced potatoes, seaweed (forget the real name, kelp maybe?), lettuce, and Chinese dumplings. You throw what you want in the oil, wait till it's cooked, then fish it out and dip it in your dipping sauce. It's pipping hot, and oh my goodness, so delicious! I could eat that all the time.

My nephew, Robbie, got a hunk of hot pepper on the first bite that just about floored him. He was sweating the rest of the meal! Suzanne, Daniel, and I had never used chopsticks. Once I got them turned around the right way and dropped a few things once or twice, I got the hang of it. It was a fantastic meal and fun to share Lannie and Jake's culture with them.
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