The Jing Part One: Thursday Dinner HTML version

find her elderly Chinese neighbours up and about, doing their morning Tai
Chi. Early morning Tai Chi was something she'd often wondered about
trying to join in with, but the more she wondered, the more easily she
came to the conclusion that five in the morning perhaps is just a little
fearsome a time to be getting up, whatever the supposed health benefits.
By Thursday lunchtime, Julia had received her e-mail replies and was
ready to book the table. She'd chosen a Chongqing hotpot restaurant,
which she acknowledged was a strange choice for the time of year.
Chinese style hotpot, or “huoguo” as it's known in China, is a very hearty
form of eating that's usually something reserved for the colder winter
months. Just imagine an Irish crofter's cottage kitchen, all toasty from the
stew sitting on the range cooker all day long and filling the house with
snuggly and delicious warmth and smells. Hotpot is nearly the same
atmosphere, but in a restaurant filled with hundreds of other people. In
Julia's mind though, it was a good choice for the familiar faces who, as she
knew, loved it, and for the new faces who want to see something really
different. Moreover, she knew for sure that there'd be a free table for the
eight or nine people she was expecting.
While Julia's Thursday dinners were open to all who wanted to attend,
she did usually hope for at least a few new faces at each one, so that her
friends all had the chance to do a little networking in China - the land that
decided to “forget” about Facebook. Tonight was a good haul, with a total
of two new faces to bring to the group. Sherry and Todd were both fellow
Americans, and both quite new to China. Sherry had come to work as a