On Sunday (that’s right, Sunday), Eryuan Liang and I took the morning high-speed train 1200 km in under 4 hours, and on time to the minute, from Beijing to Nanjing to give afternoon seminars at Nanjing Forestry University (established 1902). I was on tap to talk about forest foundation species, while Eryuan was set to talk about dresses (actually alpine treelines, but without any sense or irony, the “p” was lost in translation). Sundays are great days to give seminars; attendance is always good because the students don’t have classes and the faculty don’t have meetings. The seminars were fine, but the banquet afterwards …
The evening meal at the hotel on campus was hosted by the Prof. Jianhui Xue, Vice-President of the university, and for 10 of us there were 18 dishes on which to graze (click on any image to start a delectable slide show).
The options included (left to right; top row): pigs ears, lotus rice stuffed with sweet glutinous rice, Nanjing steamed duck, braised tofu, salted fish, steamed shrimp; (left to right, second row) satueéd bamboo shoots, jelly fish, bacon and mushrooms, radish soup, squid, okra, and garlic, Dongpo pork; and (left to right, bottom row) jianbing with beef, braised fish, savory custard with squid, savory buns, jianbing with peppers, and mixed roots (potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes), peanuts, and corn. I confess to trying all but the pigs ears, which I just couldn’t really wrap my tongue around. On the other hand, the Dongpo pork, supposedly invented, or at least appreciated, by the Song Dynasty poet and gastronome Su Dongpo, was particularly sweet and succulent. We washed it all down with buckwheat tea, a warm drink made from rice and mung beans, and (for some, not me), big Australian red wine.
Two hours and a short drive later, we were on a late evening plane back to Beijing, with enough time to catch a quick few hours shut-eye before another pair of talks at the Institute for Tibetan Plateau Research.