So Juan and I were having a conversation in the car recently about how immigrants shape their new countries. It focused specifically on the Chinese community, after our bizarre weekend.
The other night in an attempt to bond my parents (who were here for a short vacation) and Juan’s parents in a beautiful hotel in Ronda, Spain Juan bought a bottle of rum, as our previous bottle had run out. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but it was after 10pm and there is a recent law which prohibits the sale of alcohol in order to curb Spanish younster’s botellon (do a search on that last word to understand what I am talking about). Juan set out unconfident in his ability to find the golden liquid. Not 10 minutes later (after asking three strangers) was he able to walk into a ‘chino store’ and come out with some contraband. I guess you can always find whatever it is that you are looking for for the right price.
Saturday night was the strangest episode we have experienced in a while. A friend that Juan woks with who is of Chinese heritage invited us out to eat some ‘authentic’ Chinese food on the Costa del Sol. ‘Great’ we thought, thoroughly tired of sweet and sour ribs and almond chicken type dishes made for western consumption. One of the things I miss most from Canada is menu diversity. Lately I find myself slightly bored of restaurant options in our pueblo. Any chance to try something ‘foreign’ and we wanted in!
Juan and I met his friends from work and some other Spaniard girls who were really into Chinese culture. They were speaking and learning characters and everything. They even had that shrill Asian girl laugh, I swear. Quite quickly we also found out that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Well, I can now tell you that you can only find ‘authentic’ in your local clandestine Chinese restaurant. That’s right folks, you probably don’t even know these places exist (last time we were in Torremolinios we ate just down the block). This place is not so much a restaurant, in fact it was a living room. And I would bet ten bucks that the building was abandoned (if was up on the fourth floor so we past every ‘flat’ in there and none had any lights on and most were boarded up. Before we got in though we had to wait outside to make sure that they would let us in. I guess the last time they brought foreigners they ‘chef’ didn’t like it very much.
I was a little nervous I have to admit – possibly more so because I couldn’t read th menu written in Chinese on a whiteboard in th corner. I figured if worse came to worse I could always claim vegetarianism! It turned out though that I didn’t have to use my Plan B – in fact I don’t think anyone in there ate more than Juan or I. The lady in the kitchen cooked away. I went and watched her with one of the girls and she was so quick in all she did. The noodles she was stretching out went straight into the pot, along with a bunch of other fresh stuff. In the end we shared a huge soup (reminiscent of Vietnamese we used to eat in Canada), Chinese pizza (absolutely delicious and completely vegetarian), dumplings and a fried noodle dish. The beer we drank we helped ourselves to, right out of the fridge. Perhaps we ate so much so that we wouldn’t end up talking religion like almost everyone else. It was a great night and I’d kill for another soup like that. Even though I know where this restaurant is, we’ll never be able to go again without a translator.