From the Arch to the Great Wall

5. Beijing Duck


After lunch we were off to the Ming tomb. The tomb had intricate carvings on the roof and beautiful sculptures adorned the walkways. It was the first real tomb I had ever been to in China so I took some pictures and spent most of my time in awe. Walking around the tomb gave me some time to relax and stretch out after the Great Wall excursion. Soon, it was time to go and everybody clambered back onto the bus.

Ming tomb

Next we went to an underground city. It was built as an emergency shelter during the Cold War and now has become a secret tourist attraction. It's secret because not many people are supposed to know about it; if another war arises the Chinese government would still like to use the underground city. It was very interesting but also quite scary as well. The tunnels were dimly lit and damp, it was cold underground, and it was very easy to get lost. The underground city is not a real "city", per se, but rather a network of tunnels underneath Beijing. Some tunnels led to Summer Palace or the Forbidden City, others led to rooms where people could sleep or watch movies, and the entire thing was built to be self-sufficient. George told us how they would grow silkworms and use the silk to make blankets. Silk blankets are very warm and can be vacuum-packed for easy travel. In the middle of the underground city we reached a silk factory. This is where they grew silkworms and made blankets, robes, etc. We watched a demonstration on how the silk was pulled in four directions and stretched across a table to make one layer of the blanket. Layers would be added until a blanket of sufficient size was reached. After shopping around we cleared out and headed for dinner.

Tunnel inside the underground city

The last dinner in Beijing was really good. Some highlights included kung pao chicken, Beijing duck, and great tea. Duck was a culinary highlight for me during this trip; I've had duck before in St. Louis but the skill and preparation needed to create an authentic masterpiece can only be found in China. This was also the first time I ate duck the traditional way, wrapped with onion shoots in lotus bread and drizzled with plum sauce.

Kung pao chicken, part of the last dinner in Beijing

The art of roasting ducks evolved from techniques used to prepare sucking pigs. Its history can be traced back to as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) when it was listed among the imperial dishes in Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages, written in 1330 by Hu Sihui, an inspector of the imperial kitchen. Since then, chefs have developed the idea that the skin of the duck should be soft and crisp at the same time so that it melts in the mouth. The preparation of duck requires a series of complicated steps which include inflating the unbroken skin like a balloon so that it roasts correctly. After roasting, the art turns to slicing and serving the meat. A skilled chef can cut between 100 and 120 slices, all with equal amounts of meat and skin. Also, dishes can be made with the duck's innards, head, wings, and webs.

After dinner we had free time until check-in. I learned a new Chinese phrase tonight - wan ba, meaning internet bar - and went to go find one with Henry, a new friend. It was 10 RMB for a 4-hour card and I accidentally told him 10 dollars so we left because he thought it was too expensive. Again, physically I knew I was in China but mentally I was not switched over yet. When we got back to the hotel I wanted to go swimming but decided it was better to pack my luggage so I would be ready to go in the morning. As I cleaned up for the night I hoped that all the other cities would not be extremely terrible since Beijing set the bar really high. It's a beautiful city and I'm glad it was our first stop on the trip.

第五章 北京烤鴨


這天下午我們參觀十三陵。這個陵墓群景色很漂亮,雕樑畫棟,步道裝飾著雕塑 品,這是我們在中國第一次看到的陵寢,處處都有驚奇,值得取景照相,

下一站是「地下城(防空洞,地下防禦工事)」,這是冷戰時期所建的一座緊急 避難所,現在變成神秘的觀光景點。神秘的是很多人不應該知道這個地方, 而且如果真有戰爭,中國政府還是會使用這個地方,很有趣也挺嚇人的。 地下城昏暗陰濕,很冷也很容易迷路,地下城不是個「城」,是個北京地下通 道相連的網路,有些通道通往頤和園或紫禁城,有些通到人們可以休息或看 電影的地方,整個地下網路自給自足。

在地下城中途,我們參觀了一個絲綢工廠。導遊George說,工廠裡養蠶吐絲, 織成絲毯,又輕又保暖,也可真空攜帶。到了工廠,幻燈展示如何將絲拉出四個 方向做出層層的絲毯,當然免不了,我們也採購了一番才離開。

在北京的最後一頓晚餐十分豐盛,特別的菜有宮保雞丁,北京烤鴨和上等茶。 尤其是烤鴨,我在聖路易嚐過鴨肉,但是在中國料理的烤鴨味道特別好, 這也是我第一次吃正宗烤鴨,青蔥、薄餅沾甜麵醬。

烤鴨的技術源自烤乳豬。根据歷史記載,早在元朝(1206-1368)時,一位御醫忽 思慧在1330年所寫的一本食譜上即有描述,從那個時候開始,廚師們不斷改進 做法,做到烤鴨鴨皮又脆又酥,入口即碎。準備烤鴨時,有著複雜的手續, 要讓鴨皮像氣球一樣平整又不會斷裂,才會烤得均勻,烤好以後如何切片上桌 是一門藝術,手巧的廚師可將一只烤鴨切成100到120片,每片的肉和皮一樣多, 另外鴨子的頭、翅膀、蹼和內臟都可以做成一道道菜上桌。

晚餐後,熄燈前,我學了一個新詞「網吧」,就是internet Bar。我和Henry到外面 找到一家,四小時才10元人民幣,買張卡就可以使用電腦上網。我沒留意換算, 就告訴Henry要10元美金,這樣太貴了,所以我們沒進去。實際上,我知道我 在中國,但是心理上我還沒換過來。回到旅館本想去游泳,但是明天一早就要 離開,還是留在房間整理行李比較妥當。晚上,我在想,接下去的幾個城市千万 不要太差,因為北京太好了,把我們的旅遊標準提得很高,北京很美,真高興她是

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