Sunday lunch

Its rest day and we entered in the real Wild West, a small village An Bian in the Shaanxi province, 1500km down the road. As well as this it is the home village of Mr. Lee, our guide and route advisor. Time has stood still for 60 years in this town, an amazing place and a taste of real old China. Walking down the street the goats and sheep were being slaughtered on the dusty pavement and the joints just hung up on hooks outside next to the road. The locals would walk by and choose a cut, this would be weighed off and payment made. Next to this would be barrows of fresh tofu, bean curd and then the piles of fresh veg, quite a sight! All of this strung along the dusty roads interwoven with motor bikes, cattle 3 wheeler trucks belching plumes of diesel smoke, and then of course the mass of people, all stopping and falling over each other looking at the 2 who have just hit town.

We walked down the street for about 300 meters to Lee s home. His 80 year old mom and wife had prepared us a local specialty. A lamb that had been roughly cut up and boiled in a light veg and ginger stock for about 3 hours. This was then served with a side dish of vinegar and garlic (which you would dip the meat into) raw veg, spicy chucks of flat noodle, marinated sprouts and spinach. With this dish it is customary to eat with your hands. We were all placed around a large low table, with a bottle of local beer in front of each person. The “gambay” (cheers) was done and lunch commenced. Braam and I were served first; I think we each got half a rib cage in front of us. The rest got theirs and we dived in tearing off the meat from the bones with our hands. It was incredible how tender and tasty the lamb was, and the dip really enhanced the flavor of the lamb.

It did not take us long and the lamb was gone between the 12 of us at the table. The other noticeable thing was the noise and laughter from the rest of the folk, a festive bunch. I thought the meal was over, but out came the next course. The water that the lamb was boiled in was now turned into a veg and noodle broth with potato and chilli. This was also really tasty. Now stuffed to bursting point, we ended with some Chinese tea, and then rolled out and back to our Saloon accommodation. This joint was a story on its own.

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