Mama’s Cooking

Nicholas Quirke was always happy to accompany Peng to see his parents as the spread that was on laid for him was always astonishing and delicious and on 31 May 2021 it was no different. The day started though with a thunderstorm which seemed to be typical of Beijing at this time of year and he fully expected the day to brighten. The rain had eased by the time they left but it was was still damp and he armed himself with an umbrella. Peng had bought some plant based mince and was taking it with him to get his mum to make some bing with it, which was something she was extraordinarily good at. To begin the lunch which was another dazzling array he was offered Zongzi that had been made by their neighbour and added to that she had also made a batch of sugared walnuts which was a particular favourite of his. It was a pleasant few hours though for much of the time he knew he was being talked about but not clear on what was being said till he got a translation. He was mildly embarrassed as he had always been a messy eater and no matter how careful he was food seemed to end up on his clothes. Chinese food was often oily and though he was a dab hand at using chopsticks he inevitably splashed his clothes somewhere and this not pass the observant eye of Qiuhui who’s pointed out the spots and even offered Lianzhuang’s shirt while he cleaned them with spot remover. They talked about the upcoming trip and it was commented on again how lucky Er Wen was. He had a class with Jean in the afternoon and he found an alternative subway route and walk to the school through an unexplored hutong. As soo. As he exited the subway there was a downpour and he was thankful he had carried the extra weight. Jean was straightforward and for once was not wearing a face mask. He was anxious however to get home for the evening Entertainment, the final episode of ‘Mare of Eastfield’. It did not disappoint and with a truly unexpected but logical denouement it was an intense, layered series, full of humour and humanity. It had been a satisfying day and replete with mama’s cooking he slept a deep long sleep. He was unexpectedly given the day off work on 1 June 2021 as it was Children’s day in China and the kids got a break which meant he had one too. For him it was not ideal as it meant losing pay but it did give him some free time to do some exploring. A film had been released which was causing a stir in China based on the Legend of the White Snake (白蛇传; Bái Shé Zhuàn) a Chinese fairytale about a snake spirit who falls in love with a human named Xu Xuan, and the ensuing chaos that follows. The Legend of the White Snake is one of the Four Classic Folk Chinese written works that have literary significance. It required a 7km cycle west to a shabby mall where the cinema was and as always it was an interesting ride and discovery of another area of the city. The film was self-consciously artistic film and if there was one that deserved to be a success then it was this one. It had a uniquely Chinese sensibility and focuses on an ancient myth about lovers from the demon and human world and the lengths that one can go to for the one you love. It was told In the form of a Cantonese opera and the story of love and  betrayal is given a theatrical setting with the worlds it depicts a mesmerising combination of the real and the illusory. He found the look exquisite,  integrating , classics Chinese paintings with , music, martial arts and dazzling special effects. Surprisingly the route back was 6,5km but due to its location on a ring road following the route he took homie on the way would have required some dangerous Ni Xing and he didn’t mind the exercise it had given him. The rest of the day at home was spent collating documentation for his application to the Exit/Entry bureau the next day it was becoming more difficult for him to give the authorities a reason for him to stay now that the UK was easing out of lockdown but he was ever hopeful. Having already seen a movie that day did not stop him from spending the evening in front of a Japanese horror movie , ‘Stigmatized Properties’. He was surprised to learn at the end of this film that it is based on a true story. He found it genuinely creepy throughout but the end was overblown and a little ludicrous. Hoping that the same could not be said of his visit to the bureau the next day he went to sleep.

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