Fred Mednick - Chinese Fat

My most memorable meal was in China, 1984, while I was teaching at the university there. I was asked to join my students in the dormitory cafeteria, where I was ushered into a room for special guests. This was to be finer dining than the normal grub, a gray-brown soup ladled from a wagon full of the slop. I was handed a metal tin in which I saw a gelatinous blob of white matter. Since I am allergic to fish, I did not know what to do, but figured that my health was more important than a brief cultural faux pas. I told them, "I am very sorry, but I cannot eat fish." They looked at me with astonishment and said, "Teacher Fred, that's not fish, it's fat! We save the fat for honored guests!" Of course, I was honor-bound and ate the white brick. Memorable, indeed.

Here in Seattle, I ate on a yuppie farm, an 8 course meal that lasted almost 5 hours, each dish better than the next. It was called The Herb Farm (It just burnt down last year), and every meal had a different herb - fish, pheasant, salads. It was extraordinarily expensive (and you could only make a reservation on one day a year), but when you drink champagne and the wine steward comes around with a glass plate displaying herbs to crush in, you know you've died and gone to heaven.

Fred Mednick,

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