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My Chinese encounter

 

 

:))) Yes, I call this post as ‘my Chinese encounter’ in Barcelona… During my short stay there, I realized that I did not have much chance to practice my Spanish for food, instead, I spoke Chinese all the time. ha…

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I slept till ‘naturally’ woke up, it was half past ten already – just love that “Mediterranean’s” lazy morning. :)) But I do need coffee – I know, don’t remember since when I started needing a cup of black coffee to start the day off, while him drink green tea all day long – we swapped cultural custom. :)

On the way down to the hotel’s cafe, I was a bit joyful, a bit nervous – I was going to try out my Spanish on my own, and not to families and friends.

I ‘pretended’ causally walking into the cafe, was just about to open my mouth to ask in Spanish that I had practiced many times in the elevator, the only girl — waitress wearing a straight black pony tail, a ‘honest’ pair of ‘glasses’, with a Chinese looking face, started talking in English to a group of guests. … A sigh of relief – I will try to talk in Spanish later then, now, I can make an order in English — I was thinking.

I did make my order, then sat quietly waiting for my coffee. I still was not sure if she was Chinese, coz she had much darker skin, and her English (and Spanish that I later heard) did not sound with very strong Chinese accent.

After a long while, she noticed me still waiting for my coffee, she rushed into the back of the counter to make coffee for me herself. I felt really sorry — it was my lazy day, I should not bring her any rush at all, so I quickly spoke to her, “no, no rush for me, I am not in rush, I can wait…” She immediately looked at me with a surprise but warm smile, answered, “it’s ok. It is just my colleague is supposed to be here as well. She will be back soon I guess, I will be ok then.: — In CHINESE. Then I realized I actually talked to her in Mandarin too. My instinct (while confronting a Chinese face) did talking before my mind choosing the language. :))

Anyway, in between her busy work, we talked enough to know each other in Chinese briefly.

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I wandered around the residential area where the hotel was, trying to choose a bar for a typical Spanish lunch. But I am not that kind of person comfortably sitting in a restaurant alone, also all I saw was Spanish man in groups having beer in the bars and small restaurants. Eventually, I saw a small bar with a few families sitting around the tables outside in the shades. A little girl with cute blonde girl waved at me with a big smile, “hola!” I waved and smiled back – here it is then, I sat down.

A few seconds later, a lady with a modernized Chinese ‘qipao’ top came to me, asked me what I would like to order in Spanish. I puzzled – isn’t it Spanish food bar? I looked at the menu, and looked around the food on the other tables — yes, they were all Spanish food. I made my order – in Spanish to her.

When she brought the food out, I decided to try my settle my wonders. “Are you Chinese?” I asked in Mandarin. “Yes! Yes! I just told my husband that this girl outside looks like ‘our’ Chinese.” Then she pulled the chair in front of me, sat down, started talking in Mandarin with very strong their local accents – never mind I was eating. Ok, then, I have accompany for lunch. :))

She started telling me the story since she came to Spain till what happened the night before. I did enjoy listen and fill in my curiosity of their life here. They are from a small village in south China, used to live on land and a rich mine nearby. They left all that behind, now own this small bar, working from half past six in the morning to around 12 or 1 in the midnight.

“But how come you serve Spanish food in your menu?” – it was my big surprise, because, for example, in England, the Chinese takeaways or restaurants mainly serve Chinese food, apart from ‘Fish and Chips’. In fact, I probably have never seen Chinese run a complete ‘western menu’.

She did not explain much, or I could not get her accent right. I think she meant that a small bar like this will not have business if only serve Chinese food, since people always expect to have tapas and drinks here.

Honestly, the lunch I had was not … very authentic. Ha… But I do appreciate her effort.

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The first time I came Spain to visit my-in-laws a few years back, there was a couple passing by in the street. We overheard the lady asked her husband where he thought I was from, the gentlemen answered, “must be from ‘east’ somewhere”. Because there were not many Chinese in the streets.

But now, :)) I have had Chinese lunch (southern cuisine) in the Chinese restaurant next to the hotel a few times already, not to mention breakfast or coffee in the bar that all like these encounters I had.

Eventually, I found myself just enjoy sitting in a bar like this, looking at locals having coffee and chatting with the Chinese owners or waiters/waitress. The topics are normally like, “How is your son now? Did he sleep well last night?” The Spanish lady asked. “Yes, he was well. My wife was going to bring him to visit you.” …

Related posts:

Starters and desserts in Chinese cuisine
Culture Note: Chinese Chopsticks
Stories of food: Having Chinese food in Paris
101. Healthy recipe: Chinese lamb and radish soup

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