The lips, the feet, the tongue, heart, the skin - No part of the bird is left uneaten when you go for a traditional meal of Peking duck in Beijing.
Our hosts last night at Quanjude, part of a 150-year-old chain of Beijing restaurants that specialize in roast duck, were a delightful young couple, Mengchao and Lulu. They're the son and daughter-in-law of a Chinese friend, Yinzi, in Seattle who is married to Loren, one of Tom's former co-workers. From the first time we started e-mailing with each other about meeting in Beijing, they made it clear that roast duck would be part of the plan.
Above is the chef who carves each duck (one serves four people) tableside. All the parts were surprisingly tasty, especially when dipped in a slightly sweet hoisin sauce and rolled up in a thin pancake with slivers of scallions. The ducks are slow-roasted over open fires so the skin is crispy and the meat juicy but not greasy.
This is a photo taken at the home of Lulu's grandmother and grandfather where we were the "honored guests'' for an afternoon visit. Lulu and Mengchao speak a little English, but we managed to communicate mostly through gestures, smiles, sign language and lots of laughter.
Lulu's cousin has a one-year-old baby who couldn't take her eyes (or keep her hands off) of Tom's beard. We could learn a thing or two from the Chinese about entertaining. All the snacks served were healthy - fresh strawberries, watermelon, bananas and fragrant Jasmine tea!