Peking Duck

by J.D. Roth

Important reader poll at the end of this entry. Seriously.

Kris and Tiffany’s Aunt Jenefer and Uncle Bob were in Portland last night (with Bob’s mother Irene), so the six of us gathered at Sungari for a Chinese feast. Dinner was awesome.

Tiffany and I had pre-ordered the Peking Duck. I had never eaten Peking Duck before. The preparation process is so elaborate that the dish must be ordered 48 hours in advance. According to the wikipedia:

Peking Duck requires a duck with its head still attached. First, it is inflated with a pump or other object, separating the skin from the body (this was done by blowing through a straw by someone with a strong lung in ancient times). Then the skin is scalded with boiling water to make it drier and tauter and brushed with molasses so that it acquires a dark, rich color with the slight aroma of caramel during the subsequent cooking process. After drying for half a day, the duck is hung by its neck in a hot oven where it is roasted for an hour or more, during which time the copious fat of the duck melts off and the skin becomes crispy. Because a large oven is required, as well as other complicated preparation techniques, Peking Duck is not usually prepared at home.

Serving is a production, too. At Sungari, the duck is served table-side. The waiter brings two dishes of flaming hoisin sauce (as in, the sauce is on fire), the duck, some scallions, and some mu-shi (flour pancakes) which look like nothing more than homemade Mexican tortillas. The waiter then spreads hoisin sauce on a pancake, fills it with duck and shallots, and then puts them on a platter. A single duck makes about a dozen wraps.

Because I had ordered the most expensive dish on the menu, I decided to order the most expensive drink too: the monkey-picked tea.

“I don’t like it,” Tiffany said, after taking a sip.

“It tastes like grass,” I agreed. But after a few more sips, and after a few bites of Peking Duck and Sesame Beef, I was hooked. I drank a pot-and-a-half. (I’m not ever going to get to sleep.)

It was fun to see Bob, Jenefer, and Irene. Special thanks to Bob for picking up the check. It was a generous gesture, especially after I’d ordered the most expensive stuff in the restaurant!

Dinner was especially fine because:

As we were saying our good-byes, Bob and Jenefer voiced their distaste for the new weblog front page. “I hate it,” Jenefer said.

“Well, it’s only temporary,” I said. “I’m moving to new blogging software. In a couple weeks, the new site will look mostly like the old site.”

“What do you mean mostly?” she said. “It had better have the calendar, and it had better have the comments on the main page. I hate all the clicking around I have to do now. It’s terrible.

“And you should write more. I don’t care about comic books or personal finance. I hate all those links you put up. I want more stories.”

Kris smiled. She’s been telling me for weeks that I shouldn’t make my proposed changes. She’s been telling me for weeks that people like foldedspace just the way it is. She’s been telling me for weeks that I spend too much time writing for Get Rich Slowly, and not enough time writing here.

So, dear readers, I put it to you: what are your feelings? What do you like about this site? What do you think needs to change? Should I simply go back to the way things were? I can ratchet up the spam protection to see if it does anything. If I can make the new front page look and operate the same way as the old page, will that keep you happy?

The ball is in your court. Let me know how you feel.

Updated: 24 October 2006

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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