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Published: November 30th 2005
It was a Sunday in early summer in Xi’an. I remember it was a Sunday as it was the day that Xiao and his wife took us to a Christian church service in this ancient city. After the worship service in the packed church we made our down East Street to-ward the Bell Tower. I cannot say we walked. We could not move fast enough to call it a walk. Being Sunday, a day of rest, the sidewalks were a mass of people. Along the way we stopped to watch several men and women carving intricate designs on watermelons. They were works of art with designs of dragons, flowers and curling lines.
“Oh gee,” I groaned, “I didn’t bring my camera along. What a picture those would make.
Passing the Bell Tower where West, East, North and South Streets meet we crossed North Street using the tunnel under the busy street. Vendors was hawking news-papers, trinkets and beggars were begging. Coming up on the other side I said, “There is a good supermarket here. Let’s go in. I need to buy some coffee.”
Everyone agreed and we entered the subterranean very upscale shopping mall. The grocery store here
regularly has items on the shelf I had seen no where else in China, such as whole bean coffee, Campbell’s Soups and other western products that are seldom seen in China. In fact, just five years before, in 1995, many of these products would have been impossible to find in China.
We were passing the soft drink section when I spotted cans of A&W Root Beer. “Wow,” I exclaimed, “I never thought that I would see A&W in China.” Turning to Xiao and his wife I ask, “Have you ever drank root beer?”
“I’ve never heard of it,” Xiao replied. “What is it?”
“It is a soft drink,” I said, “it has no alcohol, but is called beer because of the way it is manufactured.”
I picked up two cans and added them to our shopping cart.
“Do you like jauzi ?” Xiao asked.
“Very much, Nancy said. “We both like it very much.”
“There is a famous Moslem restaurant near here,” he said. “They make a special type of jauzi.
The soup stays inside the dumpling.”
“Ah, yes,” Nancy exclaimed, “we have had that before. It is very good,”
“Would you like to go there for lunch?”
“Yes, sure,” she replied.
After purchasing our groceries we make our way out of the mall and then walked beside the Drum Tower until we reached the street that goes through the tunnel in the tower. There is no sidewalk, so cars and pedestrians share together. Hugging the wall and hoping a car would not hit us we made our way through the tunnel and into the Moslem Quarter. Straight ahead the restaurant, with a green sign above the front door, is located on the right side of the street, about two hundred feet from the tunnel.
Entering the restaurant we made our way to the second floor. Pictures of famous people who had eaten here lined the walls. Almost all the pictures are of political leaders. The waitress showed us to a table and took our order. I took the two cans of root beer out of the bag I had been carrying.
The waitress glanced at the cans and a deep frown crossed her face. In rapid fire Chinese she spat out words in a tone showing displeasure.
“She says we cannot drink beer here,
no alcohol,” Xiao said.
“Explain to her that these have no alcohol. They carry the name beer because of the way they are manufactured, but there is no alcohol,” I hoped this would convince her. If not I would simply put them back in the bag and order a Coke or Pepsi.
Xiao explained what I had said. The waitresses face gradually changed from a frown to a look of interest. If I had been quick on my feet I would have poured a bit into a glass and handed it to her …
Satisfied she disappeared and soon brought our steaming dumplings to us.
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