Diary 2013/09/09 An English Evening

As payday approaches (but fails to arrive), we’ve all been a little short on cash, tightening the belt and generally acting like “otaku” (zhainan and zhainv 宅男、宅女, literally men and women who don’t leave their houses), so Geoff invited us over to his flat this evening for dinner and entertainment. The deal was he’d buy the ingredients, Steph and I would cook it, and everyone else would bring something to contribute, such as alcohol or treats.

We decided to make chilli, since Geoff’s kitchen was limited to two burners, a rice cooker and a slow cooker. It turned out brilliantly, made of pork mince, fresh tomatoes instead of tinned, red peppers, celery, carrots, and mushrooms, and seasoned only with garlic, chillis and bay leaves. Magnifique! However, I accidentally removed myself from the cooking process for a short while as I stabbed myself in the hand while prepping the tomatoes to be blanched. Typical Annie. It was actually pretty bad: a small incision, but quite deep. I nearly fainted for some reason, probably shock at the deepness, or maybe I severed something important… It’s starting to bruise, but it should heal up just fine.

I ran downstairs once with Geoff to buy some plasters, and then again after we returned because I felt guilty about stabbing myself and was also getting the munchies, so I bought a cornucopia of snacks for the three of us to nibble on while the other guests arrived. The snacks were mostly gone by the time the first guest, our colleague Judy, knocked. I like Judy; she’s from Xi’an, and speaks English very well. She was feeling a bit under the weather this evening however, so seemed content to let us all jabber away in quick, colloquial English all evening. Judy brought some grapes, and also ran downstairs to buy some niurou xianbingr 牛肉馅饼 (beef pies), a Sichuan specialty also called guokui 锅盔 which can only be described as a disc-shaped sausage roll, filled with a sprinkling of minced beef instead of a wad of sausage. The meat is encased in flaky, spiraled pastry, and is seasoned faintly with Sichuan spices. They were heavenly.

Our last two guests soon arrived: Annie S, our wine-loving colleague (who of course brought  a lovely bottle of red), and Jon, the Anglo-Francais marketing intern. If I’m being honest, it was an awkward grab-bag of party guests, and it was hard to tell if everyone was enjoying themselves sometimes. After dinner we started singing, since Geoff’s keyboards had arrived from his previous residence in China, and he has a passion for music. We sang some Adele, some Beyonce, a little Evita…Not necessarily everyone’s favourite songs. It tailed off after an Eminem song was requested, and then quickly became a Youtube party.

Youtube parties, as some might know, are when everyone searches for a music video or comedy clip of their choice on Youtube to share with the other party guests. This is usually “the funniest thing you will ever see” or the “best/most outrageous/most artistic music video in the world” to the person suggesting them, but rarely to the taste of the rest of the group. Case and point, Steph put on some of her favourite Christian metal band’s music, while Geoff played a few clips of a wizened British comedian whose name is slipping my mind. For fun, I requested Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” because if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out on a large portion of pop culture knowledge, which will absolutely hinder you and your team at the next pub quiz you attend. Obviously. I kid. But it’s a freaky weird video that scares me a little, and now the song is stuck in my head. Alas.

Overall it was an enjoyable evening. I learned a lot about chilli-making from Steph, stole a recipe for marble shortbread cookies from Annie S., and got a chance to stretch my vocal chords. I can’t wait to host our own dinner party at our flat!

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