Chinese Meal. Fair use

A few days ago our bunch of friends decided to have a Chinese dinner at our home. Everyone loves Chinese cooking. This food is of course not a novelty any more even here, but since while getting better it keeps being incredibly cheap, we still eat it a lot and like it (a lot.)

Advised by the youngest of us all I therefore went to this Chinese restaurant close by, located at the end of Via Cavour, not far from Via dei Fori Imperiali. I ordered a take-away meal for 8. I had never been there before. Wow was I surprised by the place and by the people!

The restaurant was elegant enough. I admired the professionalism, dynamism and hard working style that reigned in the place, everybody being so serious and dedicated.

A big family clan, I believe, with all ages being present: male teenagers serving tables; middle-aged women organising, calculating, pinning small sheets of purple paper to the wall; young sweet-looking women serving too, clad in traditional silk dresses with fine motifs on them; a man who I think was the husband of one of the older women and apparently the boss; the eldest woman finally, white-haired, the grandmother definitely, who worked hard at the counter despite her age, so incredibly attentive to all that happened and typing the bills on the counter keys with solemn vigour.

I smiled at her and she smiled back. Romans are good-natured but they have some difficulty in understanding such closed-up and reserved people who nonetheless, when they feel one doesn’t perceive them as aliens, quickly respond. I told her I had a few friends from China and asked her what town they came from, what type of Chinese language they spoke, whether their language was Cantonese- or Mandarin-related. She said that their speech was related to none of them, that it was an entirely different language. The way she said it revealed she enjoyed answering to me even though it was not apparent (although I felt it clearly.)

She then said they all came from Wenzhou, which (I later learned) is a town in the south-eastern Zhejiang province residing “on the Ou Jiang delta, with picturesque buildings and surroundings. The port (…) very active in the 19th century (tea export) was later used for fishing only” (La Piccola Treccani). Thence the emigration to foreign countries of large portions of these active people with “a reputation for being an enterprising folk who starts restaurants, retail and wholesale businesses in their adopted countries.”

Wenzhou. Such a difficult word I remember only because the guy got close – the one I thought to be the boss – and was so pleased to write it down for me, and he asked me if I was a real Roman, and I said yes, I am a real Roman, and after a while I realised ALL of them suddenly knew this Roman had an interest in them. They sort of suddenly knew I was sympathetic.

Mifu’s Chinese calligraphy. Public Domain

Someone probably overhearing the said conversation and exchanging quick Chinese whispers they all were immediately aware of everything getting immediately hidden-attentive, hidden-agreeable, while two young men prayed me several times to please sit down while waiting for my package (till I finally accepted) and offered me gratis this unbelievable Chinese H-bomb liquor (of which I drank two shots.)

I felt this quasi imperceptible attention, these good vibes in the air despite their not showing it much. Chinese people are delicate, steel-strong, intelligent and – I must gather – telepathic, while most of the people here consider them a totally indecipherable marble-faced folk – funnier than stone-faced, it is a joke I have with some Hong Kong IT students: I tease them, they tease me back.

Oh such a lovely lovely evening it was! My fantasy was flying high, this nitro-glycerine booze being not totally guiltless.

And then – like a sudden cool breeze coming from nowhere … I looking at the paintings around … looking at the smiling faces around – I clearly felt like the presence of a God as my sight began to blur …

Bacchus-Dionysos. Louvre. Public Domain

At home our Chinese dinner was a success. It went on and on as only Roman dinners can go (for hours,) mixing both Chinese and Italian dishes washed down with an icy Italian white this time though, a tuscan Galestro not at all bad.

I didn’t bring any of the Chinese H-bomb though (meeting Gods too often can be a problem beyond a doubt.) I in fact know I owe that stuff a brief, intense encounter with Bacchus-Dionysus (son of Semele and Jupiter) in that Wenzhou restaurant and in the cool open air outside, a place right at the border of the ancient Roman Subura.

While actually my sight slightly blurred within the restaurant I remember I was gently given my take-away meal.

Bacchus-Dionysus. Louvre. Face. Public Domain

Moments later I was driving back home with my motorbike, winding and winding like a crazy birdie, fresh crisp air on my ecstatic face.

Rome, the eternal loose woman, imperial, magnificent, was smiling all around.

Colosseum. Fair use

Italian version

12 thoughts on “Saw Bacchus in Wenzhou

  1. That first pic makes me mouth water! 😛

    I love the post, its as if I’m taking the walk with you. Your words touch the soul. 🙂

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  2. Thank you Ashish. You are too kind. Chinese people are more difficult to understand than Indians, who belong to the same Caucasian family of races as we Westerners. But it is worthwhile trying since they are special people. I only wish their language were not so terribly hard…

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  3. I read through this post and it touched my heart. “When the moment you back home with your motorbike and winding like crazy birdie”..mm… Once I imagined of this, I felt fresh and my mind set free. I cannot describe this feeling but it was so real!

    Besides, I perceived that you are really interested about us, Chinese! Especially the chinese food! I do not know well about Indians, but if you make a friend with a chinese, you will know they are not too difficult to understand. We are deep-thinking persons, maybe you would see some chinese showed stone-face or marble face when they’re thinking or when something went wrong with them.

    Moreover, the official language in CHINA is Mardarin, it is not difficult for westerners to learn, only the cantonese is a bit more complicated for westerners, because there are 9 vowels compared with mardarin with 4 vowels only. Cantonese can be used in Canton province area only, so if you are interested to learn, you better to learn Mardarin :-D. I can teach you some if you’re interested. 🙂

    About Chinese food, I can tell that it’s delicious! There are 34 provinces and 2 special administrative region in China, and they have their own styles of food in each province. Which kinds of chinese food/ snacks you like most? 🙂

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  4. How incredible!! You are the first Chinese person to comment at my blog. Bingo!!

    Tonight I must make a toast to it!! Not with Chinese liquor though….

    it touched my heart …the moment you back home with your motorbike and winding like crazy birdie
    Thank you, my dear AutumnSnow. So sweet of you to say that! Well my heart was touched too when I got out of there (I rember ALL those people smiling at me while my head was like a turning wheel). I risked my life winding like mad on that bike (with the help of the H-bomb Chinese liquor).

    I think feelings are like flu. They infect people. One expresses feelings and people easily respond. It is so simple. So even marble lol (or my shyness) dissolves like Snow (in Autumn) even if oceans full of whales are a big gap in between. This also might confirm my theory that Chinese are warm … only they do not show it. They are unshowing. Italians are showing. Too much, sometimes.

    the official language in CHINA is Mardarin, it is not difficult for westerners to learn
    I am too old to learn Mandarin … 😦 The reason is I cannot only learn a language ORALLY. Or yes, I can. But what for, at my age?

    About Chinese food, I can tell that it’s delicious!
    I know, I know, wow we all know it (every two weeks at least).

    I perceived that you are really interested about us, Chinese!
    I am, quite a lot! I am really interested in China! Of course also India. Arabs will come next since so many are from the Mediterranean sea, so close to us (this blog is about the Mediterranean civilization, after all). Think only about Chartage and her mortal battle against us, a mighty ancient town which was in Tunisia, close to Tunis. But I am thinking about all of them. One of my favourite authors is Naghib Mahfuz, the Egyptian writer. Adorable, poetic, profound.

    As far as China, I love this first comment by a Chinese!! (I think you are a woman. AutumnSnow seems a woman’s nick).
    I think I have proved my interest in Chinese things by dedicating to Chinese people quite a lot of lines. To Indians too, but I got feedback from them. So I was always asking myself: is it possible that among 1,4 billion Chinese … none here? (silly thought, why should they mind about Rome). Although I *felt* someone was lurking. Was it you?

    Listen. I have LOVED the Anglo-saxon culture for so long (and I still do). This is why I toiled to learn their language. I though only think, exactly like in a discussion, or a party (life is a big party after all), or like good food on a nicely layed table: if more variety is present you get *more* fun & knowledge and mind can *fly*. Higher, much higher.

    All my regards to you, AutumnSnow, and to your 2,5 billion countrypeople.

    Welcome China!!!

    PS
    1,4? Am i right?

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  5. “I think feelings are like flu. They infect people. One expresses feelings and people easily respond to it. It is so simple. So even marble lol (or my shyness) dissolves like Snow (in Autumn, sorry, Spring) even if oceans full of whales are a big gap in between. This also might confirm my theory that Chinese are warm … only they do not show it. They are unshowing. Italians are showing. Too much, sometimes.”

    **Yes, i agree with you that feeling can infect one another, no matter the nationality or the distance. We just need to feel it through our soul. We are not a mystery as people think, though we use not to show our feelings on our face, in turns, westerners do it often as you said. When you get to know more about a Chinese, you will understand what we think in our mind when we show marble-face. 🙂

    “The official language in CHINA is Mardarin, it is not difficult for westerners to learn
    I am too old to learn Mandarin … The reason is I cannot only learn a language ORALLY. Or yes, I can. But what for, at my age?”

    **I think learning a language is not related to age. Only it really takes a bit more time to learn it. I do understand what you feel. You don’t need to speak it fluently, at least maybe it can fulfil your needs or wish of learning a language. Besides, what for much depends what you think and feel. If you really want to learn it because of interests, I think age is not a matter to consider. Just enjoy the process while you are learning foreign language, ManofRoma. 🙂

    “Arabs will come next since so many are from the Mediterranean sea, so close to us. Think only about Chartage and her mortal battle against us, which is in Tunisia, close to Tunis.”

    **When you talked about Arabs, the first thing came to my mind is “Arabian nights”. For me, Arabian countries are full of mysteries, I would like to know more about it. I have been to Northern Arabic Africa before, it is a very nice place which impressed me. Those places are full of historical things and stories, even in hotels! Historical stuff is everywhere! People are nice at there, and I enjoyed it and was so impressed. It is like a heaven when I looked at the sea with the light of the sun just pass thru the leak of the cloud! Everything seemed silent and peaceful…I really loved this feeling and I would like to go there again if I have a chance. 🙂

    My life is quite hectic at the moment, and people said I look much much older than before, which is not matched my age. It seems I need to have a vacation to refresh my mind and soul.

    “I am thinking about all of them. One of my favourite authors is Naghib Mahfuz, the Egyptian great writer. Adorable, poetic, profound.”

    **It seems this author draws your attention, I would like to know more about something related to literature or some books which are worth to read. I am curious to know: when did you start to read this author’s book? 🙂 I will try to look up this author’s info on the internet. 🙂 In here, government does not promote reading. Actually, i should say the government does not put much effort on promotion of reading, most of the kids or youth like to read rubbish magazines, comics, like to trace the fashions, play the NDS … it makes their brain like grow full of grass, that is lack of imagination…and deep thinking. It might also depend on the education system in here. I am the one who suffered .Therefore, i would like to enrich my knowledge and get to know more about the world and history, I found that once i get to know a bit, i would like to treasure a bit more…it never ends.. About literature, I would like to know more about it too, though i do not have much ideas on that since i studied sciences.

    “As far as China, I love this first post by a Chinese!! (I think you are a woman. AutumnSnow seems a woman’s nick).”

    **I think you would know i am a woman or not from the above reply. 🙂

    “I was always asking myself: is it possible that 1,4 billion Chinese … nothing? (silly thought,, why should they mind about Rome). Although I *felt* someone was lurking. Was it you?”

    **There are 1300000000 people in CHINA. You *felt* someone was lurking?

    “Listen. I have LOVED the Anglo-saxon culture for so long (and I still do). This is why I toiled to learn their language. I though only think, exactly like in a discussion, or a party (life is a big party after all), or like good food on a nicely layed table: if more variety is present you get *more* fun & knowledge and mind can *fly*. Higher, much higher.”

    **I totally I agree with you that when more variety is present, we would get more fun and knowledge, it can widen our horizon and get to know more about different cultures and people from around the world. 🙂 I am so happy to meet you, manofroma. 😀

    P.S.
    When I tried to remember what I wrote this morning….it seemed quite difficult but when I started writing again, it seemed pieces of the words came up to my mind, and group together to leave you this comment to you again.

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  6. W00t Long comments – delicious!

    AutumnsNow: I can understand chinese people hell all people as long as they give me food! 😛 I love Manchurian btw.

    I think you would know i am a woman or not from the above reply.
    I won’t guess, but ManofRoma might… he’s got much MORe experience than me! 🙂

    Hoping to see you on the other posts too, two commentators make the discussion more interesting and code-wracking for the author! 🙂

    Like

  7. @AutumnSnow
    @ Ashish

    You two guys from Cindia (China+India), from the Far East, with so many oceans in between make me crazy lol. I will soon reply to the sweet woman from China. Such a long comment! The thing is my method post took so long my time is limited. I cannot blog ALL the time lol.

    It is amazing how one Indian, one Chinese and one Italian are talking together about food, about the Arabs, lovely Tunisia etc.

    This is what I expected from this bloggin’ thing. WWT: World Wide Talking (I had just written WWC ..mmm.. but it looked less nice lol.

    Great Force to both of you sweet Far Eastern friends!!!

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  8. Hi Xian Ting, welcome to my blog!!

    So you are the second Chinese to comment here. And you seem to be right from Wenzhou. Wow!! I didn’t dare to hope. I am asking myself why it took so long ahah.

    I commented on your blog too. We have many people here in Rome from that Chinese province, it seems. They are nice and hard working people.

    Maybe you can tell me more about your place and its cuisine. Really hoping to hear from you again,

    All my best regards

    Man of Roma

    Like

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