Eating Chinese with Vietnamese

Notes from a big Chinese meal with family:

  • My wife’s grandfather is the brother of the mother of the wife of the man who sat next to me. In Vietnam, this is called ‘close family’.
  • Most of my Vietnamese family are way above me intellectually. A few PhDs, a University lecturer or Professor (maths or medicine seem to be favourites), or an all round polyglot are not uncommon. The gentleman next to me made conversation by waxing lyrical about the key differentiators between oriental and occidental meals. In French. (It comes down to alcohol in the end apparently; well, doesn’t everything?) How many times do you hear the word ‘occidental’?
  • Food is eaten quite slowly but it all still goes surprisingly quickly.
  • Two out of three tables have at least one fun portable electronic device: iPhone, PSP or Nintendo DS Lite. Most children are being entertained by one of these whilst the adults eat and drink.
  • Although the most tables of ten are Chinese, there are a number of Dutch, Indians and other big family get-togethers
  • Choice pieces of the meal can be found in strange places. The cabbage that is typically underneath the duck and roast pork soaking up the meat’s juice is ferreted out quickly.
  • Between Totoro, Pokemon and Pixar shorts, Totoro wins in the end, even if it is in the original Japanese.
  • I-spy is the just about the only game to keep 5-year olds conscious when up past their bedtime in a speeding car

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