It is always an honour to be invited in to Frank and Shan Shan's home in Qihe for dinner where we are always treated to a banquet of freshly cooked Chinese food.
The Chinese people are brought up growing a lot of their own food and not wasting space. Even though Frank and Shan Shan's apartment is only small they still manage to find room to grow things to eat.
In most of the restaurants we go to in Qihe we start with soy beans and peanuts and Leo loves them so we were treated to these as starters.
The Chinese people don't seem to eat a lot of potatoes but Frank knows Leo, his boss loves potato so he was busy cooking a pork rib and potato casserole in the pressure cooker and the finished product was so tasty.
Leo asked, "How did you get this so tasty Frank?"
Frank brought out a plastic bag with sticks and leaves in it and said they were his secret ingredients. After looking at the sticks and leaves Leo said he wished he hadn't asked. We then realized Frank had cooked with real deal herbs and spices and of course there wasn't a packet mix in sight.
Sausages are something we have stayed clear of while being here but we had a sausage and tofu dish which was delicious. The sausages were hand made by Frank's mum so it was a real treat.
Another dish which I haven't got a photo of because it was so tasty we ate it before I took a photo was what I thought was a spinach omelette.
I said, "This Spinach Omelette is delicious Shan Shan".
Shan Shan said, "It isn't spinach it is from a tree and it can only be taken off the tree and eaten at this time of the year".
I quickly start thinking to myself, "Oh my God, I've eaten a tree" and calmly say, "What type of tree, Shan Shan"?
Shan Shan gets out her phone and looks for the translation and photo for me and then shows me, "A cedar tree". I double checked with her and she was adamant that it was the foliage of a cedar tree with egg that we were eating.
I stayed calm but was sure my death was close. I could hear people talking to each other at my funeral,
"Yer, that's right, she died from eating the foliage off a cedar tree".
Since living in China I have eaten donkey, pig's ears, chicken's feet, intestines to name a few strange things but now here I was eating a tree and loving it.
I was sure I was going to die in the night so I said farewell to Leo before I went off to sleep. In the morning I surprised myself by waking and feeling so well and living to tell you all the tale.
Over dinner we raved about the delicious food and Michael who is 31 years old told us how life in China has improved so much since he was a child. When he was a child they never had banquets like what we were eating. The only food they had to eat was what they grew themselves which was fruit, vegetables and eggs. Once a month they would have a little bit of meat.
I love hearing these stories, they really make me appreciate the easy life I had growing up in Australia.
I also really appreciate the friendship that these lovely people give me.