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Cheng Mansion Banquet, China(北京程府宴)
送交者: 天边的红霞 2020年07月31日13:51:12 于 [五 味 斋] 发送悄悄话

2019-07-26

Cheng Mansion Banquet0001.JPG

【Aiden in English】

        And I thought my dining experience was luxurious in Fragrant Pavilion in Hangzhou.

When one mentions "fit for a king", one sees a massive set of food in front of a gluttonous man with a gold crown and handlebar mustache. In China, that fat man is replaced by the given dictator of that generation, and he doesn't have a mustache. Disregard my tangent. Tonight, mother and I dine like dictators. 

        Standing outside the Cheng Mansion, a courtyard house in Beijing, we confusedly hesitated to enter a rather ordinary red door. To the left, a brick wall — to the right, a brick wall. The red door had a camera and a microphone attached at the shoulder level. With nothing else to do, my mother gently rang the doorbell... She rang it again, less gently. The third time, she applied great force to the button, and as if the staff realized the danger of waiting any longer, they rushed out to greet a somewhat annoyed Chinese mother — second on the list of most dangerous animals behind the common angry Chinese mother.

        As if to rub the upper-class scent in our faces, our dinner would be served in a private room at a table of two, complete with a set of private waiters and waitresses and a picture of Mao Zedong creepily staring at us. Tonight's course of action (excuse the pun): a set of side veggies and meats followed by six dishes and moon cake. Now, I have a problem while on vacation and it's not necessarily a bad habit — I don't eat a lot. So when mother dropped the bomb about spending $587 ($1 = ¥7.02 currently) for a dinner, I avoided all consumables from 8 am and on. Twelve hours later, I barely felt a nibble of hunger, much less the stomach for a full six-course meal. But when the price tag is slapped in your face, guilt provides the motivation to get through many obstacles, food being one.

        Course One: Six Fresh Fruits. Not much to say here, let's move on.

        Course two: Braised New Zealand Black Abalone. The jump from course one to two was quite large. We went from average supermarket produce to hand-dived gold from the bottoms of the Pacific Ocean. Much like gold, I could almost taste the dollar bills in my mouth. The abalone was smoked and cooked like pot roast, but the texture and seafood scent gave the dish uniqueness. Oddly enough, the star of that course was a special side sauce that enhanced the flavor.

        Course Three: Decoction of Eight Ingredients. I'm pretty sure the golden rule for Chinese soup is "if it has random objects in the soup —edible or not— and has a meaty flavor, it's serve-able". The soup tasted like chicken noodle soup, and there were random floating mushrooms and other expensive ingredients. Checked all the boxes. Tasted pretty good.

        Course Four: Braised Lobster with Zealong Tea Noodle. A common stigma for lobsters is that the shelled redfish cost boatloads of money. Well, in comparison to some other luxury foods in the world, lobster is not ridiculously expensive; however, at this estate, regular lobster is not enough. The lobster meat was infused with lotus roots. For some restaurants, the chef would add an immense amount of lotus roots to cheapen the production cost, but not this place. No, they did not shrimp on the lobster (last pun I promise). Adding lotus roots provided crunch and tenderness, masking perhaps some of the imperfections lobster can have. The dish also had some oolong tea-flavored noodles, but I really did not care. Lobster demands the main stage anywhere.

        Course Five: Braised Ox Tail, Gourmet Morchella Mushroom, Black Tiger Prawn, and Crispy Sea Salt Slice. Ever wonder how old people eat meat without teeth? Well, they probably use all their retirement money to dine on cow tail. When I took my fork and touched the cow tail, the fork passed right through. As I recall the process of eating the meat, nothing really surfaces beyond me questioning "wow, is this even meat?" My subconscious kept saying "no". 

        Course Six: Handmade Mango Yogurt with Rose Cake. At first, I thought, "after all of this, you're giving me yogurt." Then I took a spoonful and I exclaimed, "This isn't yogurt, this is warm cheesecake!" Truly, the yogurt tasted exactly like a slightly warmer melted vanilla cheesecake, which is not a knock. If all yogurt tasted like this, you could say goodbye to weight watching. The yogurt had so much buttery goodness, I couldn't stop. Unfortunately, the cup only held so much yogurt, and any more butter in my body may have caused unwanted science experiments; thus I refrained from asking for more.

        $587. Final bill. Was it worth it? I don't believe so. Picture a graph of money-to-value ratio. The first $50 are normally spent for great value, but after $100 the value increase flattens out. An example would be that for $80, one can grab a great burger, but for $200, one can get an amazing burger that is only perhaps slightly better than the cheaper burger. At the same time, the $80 burger consumer would never know how good the $200 burger tasted like and thus would always perceive the more expensive burger to be two and a half times better. 

         Conclusion: great food, but not worth a second look.

【红霞译文】

        我原以为在杭州解香楼吃的那顿晚餐够奢侈的。

        只要与“宫廷宴”沾边,人们就会看到丰盛宴席前面坐着一位头顶金冠脸长翘八胡的饕餮王。在中国,那个大腹便便的家伙被达官贵人取而代之,只不过没留小胡子罢矣,别介意我扯走题了。今晚,我和妈妈像达官贵人那样去吃顿晚饭。

        站在程府门外,我们拿不准到底该进哪道看似普通的北京四合院小红门,左边是砖墙,右边为墙砖,门上平肩处装有摄像头和对话孔。既然没别的事儿可干,妈妈轻轻点了门铃……她又按了一次,下手时没再那么矜持;第三回,她的动作干脆利落,估计工作人员察觉到若继续下去要捅娄子,因此他们赶紧出门迎候这位有点起急的中国妈,要知道惹毛的中国妈紧次于世界最危险动物──“常爱生气的中国妈”。

        或许为让我们尊享上等待遇,这顿盛餐被安排在仅供两人消遣的独立包间,并且配备了美女帅哥专属服务生,墙上悬挂的毛泽东画像始终神秘地注视着我们。今晚方案(借用双关语):先推出一套蔬菜肉类副食,再送来六道主餐与中秋月饼,问题在于每当外出度假我都吃不多──不一定是坏毛病,因此当妈妈豪掷$587(时下外币汇率:1美元=7.02人民币)炸弹,我只好从大清早八点钟开始节食闭骨。12个钟头过后,我依旧毫无饿肚子的感觉,更甭提装下六道菜的胃口,但当账单甩在面前,内疚驱使你冲破种种阻力,食物被视为其一。

        第一道菜:新鲜六品水果头盘。这里毋庸赘述,接着往下说吧。

        第二道菜:卤烧新西兰黑金鲍冷头盘。从第一道到第二道跨度非常大,食材也从普通超市大批生产的成品一下子切换到太平洋海底人工打捞的黄金。食同金箔,我满口只尝出铜钱味道。虽说鲍鱼经卤腌炖熟,其口感及其鲜味非同寻常,但出乎意料地,程府秘制的调味蘸酱为这道菜肴锦上添花。

        第三道菜:松茸天仙草鱼唇八珍汤。我十分清楚中餐汤饮的黄金法则:“如果选用任何汤料,无论可吃与否,只要带有肉味就成。“八珍汤尝起来像鸡汤面,表面漂了几片蘑菇和其它昂贵配料,每项指标都合乎要求,味道不错。

        第四道菜:玺龙茶油焖龙虾配玺龙茶面。龙虾惹人无语,连红身子外面的硬壳都值很多钱。当然,与世上其它珍美佳肴相比,龙虾并不算贵,但在程府里,普通烧法根本撑不起台面,不如来一道莲藕馅龙虾,对于某些餐馆来说,厨师靠添加大量莲藕降低生产成本,而这家恰恰相反,他们哪里把龙虾放在眼里(我保证这是最后一个双关语),莲藕能使食物脆嫩可口,藉之弥补龙虾肉质老硬的缺陷。这道菜还搭配少许乌龙茶味的面条,不过我并不介意,龙虾无愧于天下美食界的台柱子。

        第五道菜:古法烧牛尾配海盐三色面片。是否想过老人家没牙怎么吃肉?没错,为了吃顿牛尾巴,他们搞不好要搭上全部养老金。当我用叉子插牛尾巴的时候,叉子竟然长驱直入。回想前后过程,我免不了疑虑重重:“哇塞,刚吃的是肉吗?” 可我的潜意识一直回答:“不是”。

        第六道菜:程府手造芒果酸奶配玫瑰饼。起初我还想:“末了竟拿酸奶应付”,等蒯了一勺尝过之后我惊叹不已:“这算哪门子酸奶,分明是融化的奶酪蛋糕!”千真万确,酸奶吃上去真的有点像融化的香草奶酪蛋糕,这倒没什么不好。如果所有的酸奶都做成这个味道,那么你尽可跟减肥说声再见,酸奶含有很多黄滋滋香喷喷的成分,我保证会吃个没够。别高兴得太早,盛酸奶的杯子毕竟大小有限,何况体内多余的奶油可能早已引起不必要的科学反应,因此我没再多吃酸奶。

        $578美元,结账总额,值得吗?我不相信。试想一张货币对价值比率图表,前面$50美元通常物有所值,但超过了$100美元,价值增长便趋于平缓。举例来说,有人能用$80美元买来相当好吃的汉堡,也可用$200买来非常好吃的汉堡,不过,昂贵的汉堡或许只比便宜的汉堡稍微好吃一点,同时,吃$80汉堡的人从来不知道$200汉堡什么味道,所以才觉得$200美元堡要比$80的要好出两倍半。

        总而言之,程府宴珍馐美馔,但没必要再来光顾。

摘自“程府宴”简

        “程府宴”系由毛泽东主席的厨师长──程汝明所创所传。

         程汝明在跟随毛泽东及其家庭近22年职业生涯中,烹调出了主席诗词──《水调歌头·游泳》中美味的“紫苏武昌鱼”,自创出了毛主席与英国元帅蒙哥马利先生同品共赏的“元帅虾”精心秘制出来主席最爱吃的“红烧肉”……而酱这道道程府名菜汇总成宴,即曰“程府宴”。

Today in History(历史上的今天):

2017: Flash Story─My Glory to Your Honor(小小说─为你骄傲)

2015: 76ers Overnight Camp(费城七六人队篮球寄宿营)

2013: Drama Camp-5(戏剧夏令营之五)

2019-07-26_Cheng Mansion0001.JPG


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