Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Visitors From The Orient


Nearly a decade ago, I had to act as the dutiful partner to a University academic and play the hospitable "hostess with the mostest" with a couple of non English speaking Chinese students on their very first visit to rural Wales.
" what will they want to eat?" I asked Chris, not sure if I had to cater for a vegetarian palate
" Give them something Welsh" he suggested helpfully, " I'll bring them over in an hour or so"
An hour later I spied two small shapes through the kitchen door, and when I opened it two tiny and very scared looking Chinese girls stood before me, both with cameras in their hands.
Four photographs were taken before I had a chance to usher them into the cottage.
I don't think they had seen a gay house husband before!
Now back then we had two dogs. An overly friendly Welsh terrier called Finlay and a  grumpy old Scottish terrier called Maddie who had a particular dislike for strangers in the house. Of course it was Maddie who walked into the kitchen to see what all the camera flashing was all about and after taking one look at the girls, she let rip with a deep and piercing Scotty bark.
Now to be fair to Chris, no one had told him that both girls were pathologically terrified of dogs ( I guess it's not something that the student liaison officer would ask in passing) so you can imagine that both Roger Moore eyebrows were considerably raised at the hysteria that followed.
It's amazing just how loud two Chinese girls can be when they are clambering all over your couch in an effort to get away from a Scottish terrier with an attitude.
Anyhow they calmed down after two large orange squashes and a promise of something to eat
" have you made them something Welsh?" Chris asked
" Spaghetti Bolognase" I told him
" Near enough" Chris replied and in an effort to calm the soothed nerves he found them Chinese channel on the satellite box.
It worked like magic.
Immediately the girls sat down on he floor in front of the tv and watched their " local" news as if their lives depended upon it.
I served them the Spag Bol on their knees which they bolted down within a few seconds.....I hardly had time to offer them some Parmesan before they had cleared  their plates.
" I don't think they've eaten much since coming to Wales " Chris ventured
" how long have they been here?" I asked
" Four days!" , Chris replied " they've already demolished two cream teas and a large plate of Bara brith on the way here"
I gave the girls our portions of Spaghetti , two more large glasses of squash and  a massive slice of cake each, and as we all sat in silence in front of Chinese tv as they enjoyed their tea.
It was my first AND LAST venture into " foreign" hospitality and as I watched the last bit of carrot cake disappearing I couldn't help thinking how hard it must be , being the Queen.
Hey ho
Maddie & Me





32 comments:

  1. Love the illustration. We had a Japanese girl stay with us many years ago. She would 'sniff' at table (she had a terrible cold), and would get up at night to use, and sit in front of, the washing machine. All very weird.

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  2. I played hostess to many men, women, and children from all over the world. Sometimes it was interesting, but a couple of guests made it quite clear that they didn't like our food and our way of doing things. A woman from Sweden became very upset about ice in her drink.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. See, I don't get that. I am an American, when I go abroad, I don't expect things to be as they are at home. That is what the experience of traveling is all about. Who knew ice could cause such an uproar?

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    2. I know in Spain, I was always told by my mother NOT to have ice in your drink
      " you may get dysentery " she always said

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    3. Most Americans do cause an uproar. They travel abroad because that is the things that their friends are doing but they want things to be the same as in the U.S. To them I say, stay home already!!

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  3. Sounds like when Jerry brings people home and expects Margo to cook on the Good Life!

    Love the picture it looks like Maddie is giving you mouth to mouth

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    Replies
    1. It was something like that, although I didn't have big hair

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  4. The queen makes a mean spag bol I am told.

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  5. It is quite obvious that you have a way with dogs from that photo. But then, you weren't a stranger in your own house, were you?

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    Replies
    1. I'm like at Francis Pat!

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  6. The photo is from a scene in Little Britain I don't recall seeing. Taken from mainland China to a Welsh village and the home of two nearly middle aged gay men. A gentle adjustment to a different culture.

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  7. It is nice to see a picture of Maddie I found your blog just after she had died.
    Peter

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    Replies
    1. Yes I remember Peter. She was a sweetie
      Very aloof .
      We loved her dearly but she was a clear favourite of chris'

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  8. When in doubt of what to serve, do Italian. I bet those girls still remember their visit.

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  9. A friend of mine has discovered that Mr. Bean seems to appeal to most cultures.

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    Replies
    1. I can feel an audit coming on

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  10. Children mystify me, you did better than I would.

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    Replies
    1. They were in their late twenties!

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  11. I have no doubt they told all their friends about the visit after returning home.

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  12. I love how helpful Chris was. "Make something Welsh." Men...LOL
    Did Chris or anyone else even speak Chinese or did the young ladies speak English?

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    Replies
    1. They could only say " yes" in English
      .we could say nothing in Chinese

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  13. I hope they eventually made friends with the dogs. You gave them a lifetime memory at any rate. Maybe some day, they will knock on your door again.

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    Replies
    1. I hope not......well not unless I have done the weeks shop

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  14. My favorite part of my trips overseas is to eat local...On one trip we had two young sisters who whined about the food the whole trip and only ate when they found a McDonalds. Two Chinese ladies who took at least 10 photos of their plates of food and drinks at EVERY meal....not sure why?

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    1. @Linda
      When I am in Japan visiting family and friends I always take photos of the food. It goes on my blog. I have hundreds of photos. I must have at lest 100 photos of Takoyaki (octopus filled ball shaped snacks eaten with a toothpick) food stands. Best street food ever.
      My DIL sister has a food blog. From the most beautiful prepared dishes to the great bowls of ramen.
      Then my Japanese son teases me with "look Mumajilla what I ate today at your favorite place ! So I retaliate with photos
      of cheese plates. Cheese is expensive in Japan.
      I have had several Japanese student stop by. They either know my children or are friends of friends. Plus they usually speak English.
      You did a great job with your visitors. Spaghetti is always a hit along with burgers and pizza.

      cheers, parsnip

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  15. OMW I think you did very well with foreign hospitality! I love Maddie. Only met you after her! xx

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  16. awwww John
    Heart the photo of you and Maddie !

    cheers, parsnip

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  17. I have a friend in Japan who takes pictures of everything he eats on business trips (of course, he is at the high dollar restaurants, so that might be part of it).

    Is she holding a Doc Martin doll??? Ha ha ha.

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  18. I've been on both sides of that equation, though not nearly so linguistically hamstrung. But it seems noodles translated just fine. (Good to see Finlay's name pop up again; he was a Good Boy, wasn't he?)

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  19. The Queen has interpreters on hand, so that can make things easier.

    A former colleague and I became friends when we worked at the same company. She is Chinese, although her family moved to the US when she was quite young. Her two youngest siblings were born in the US. We went into Philadelphia's Chinatown a couple times, and each time, I felt as if I were in a foreign place. Everyone stared at The Caucasian, and when we went into a restaurant to eat, my friend kindly ordered for us, assuring me she "didn't order anything too scary." And she hadn't. I noticed some of the waitstaff and several other diners nod approvingly when I ate with chopsticks.

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  20. I hope they could speak at least some English or it would have been a rough time :P

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