It was Chicken! It was Chicken!

In 1999 my parents came on a 7-day tour to Beijing.  They had been here a couple of times before, and even though group tours were not really their thing,they couldn't pass up a deal on offer from good old Dayton's Travel in Minneapolis: $900.00 for airfare, 6 nights in a hotel, and 2 days of touring and meals.

 I was already living in Beijing by then, so I went to the other side of town and joined them in their hotel room (China World, no less) and talked my way onto their tour bus.

It was interesing (and a bit depressing) to see first hand what most tourists to China experience: long hours on busses peering out the windows at the locals; politically correct lectures from the tour guide; mandatory stops at 'appointed shops for tourists' where they were expected to purchase large quantities of cloisonnette and lacquerware at ridiculously over-inflated prices; and bad food.  Really bad food. 

Most meals were taken at 'appointed restaurants for tourists' where it seemed the cooks had gone to America to learn how to make Americanized Chinese food, then returned to invent corrupted versions of that! I was appalled at every meal and kept telling the others in the group "Chinese food isn't like this!"  I thought what the China Tourism Ministry was doing to these poor tourists was borderline criminal.

On the second day of the tour we stopped at the Friendship Hotel for lunch.  I was relieved because I had eaten in their restaurant and it hadn't been too bad so was reasonably sure it would be better than the slop we'd been eating up to that point.

It was.  Fortunately they served that dish most loved by foreigners, gong bao ji ding; or as it's commonly known in the States, kung pao chicken (chicken with peanuts). It actually tasted good.

When we got back on the bus the tourists were happily talking about the lunch and how glad they were that they had finally been served a familiar dish.

Then my dad struck.  From the back of the bus, in a very loud voice, he leaned over to me and said "THAT'S THE BEST DOG I'VE EVER EATEN!", whereupon pandemonium broke out on the bus as people began to contemplate the possibility that the delicious meat they'd just eaten was dog, not chicken. A near riot ensued, and it took the poor tour guide screaming into the mic 'IT WAS CHICKEN! IT WAS CHICKEN!" to finally settle everyone down. 

Meanwhile, my dad sat quietly in the back of the bus, smirking.