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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)

TITLE: 100 Year Old Eggs
By Phee Paradise


Our Peking Duck dinner was not the only banquet we had in China, and it certainly wasnít the strangest, but thatís where we were served 100 year old eggs. It seemed a fitting tribute to two people who gave God and the Chinese people 27 years, their hearts and one son.

Thirteen children and grandchildren of John and Margaret Bickford sat at the table with a few other family members. It was our fourth day in Beijing and the food had already become familiar. The meal started with cold dishes, including pickles and peanuts. The peanuts had divided us into the skilled and the unskilled. The four missionary children could still easily pick up a tiny nut with chopsticks, but many of the next generation unashamedly used spoons.

Chinese banquets arenít much like American Chinese food; there are lots of dishes, and they all taste like sesame. Well, maybe not the large fish, cooked whole with eyes intact. I couldnít say because the cold eyes kept me from trying it. Somehow, watching my cousins break pieces off the body with chopsticks didnít tempt me. The crab fritters and octopus didnít look good either. But the spicy chicken was delicious and the cabbage always overcame the sesame taste.

Even though all our meals during the trip were banquets, the Peking Duck was special. It was served in an elegant restaurant with four foot ceramic vases standing in corners and red silk hangings on wood paneled walls. Instead of the usual lazy susan on the tables, the dishes were brought in one at a time. The duck was tender and mild, and the skin was crispy. We rolled it up in small pancakes and ate it with bean sauce.

John and Margaret didnít eat this way. Like all proper missionary wives, she taught their Chinese cook to make American meat and potatoes that her children remember fondly. When he traveled to the villages where he planted and encouraged churches, he and his Chinese companion cooked meat and vegetables on a portable grill.

I wonder if they ate 100 year old eggs. I didnít. I watched my cousin and uncle as the eggs were placed in front of them. They looked like black jello molded into an egg shape, but my relatives bravely cut into them to reveal the gray yolks. My uncle commented on the rubbery texture of the ďwhiteĒ and buttery flavor of the yolk as he chewed. But when my cousin took a bite, it was her scrunched face and horrified eyes that told me I had made the right decision.

Perhaps 100 year old eggs were not the best way to commemorate my grandparentsí missionary years. They loved China, and gave her their best; but they never stopped being American. I think the meat and potatoes prepared by a Chinese cook better defines their legacy.

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This article has been read 492 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Terry R A Eissfeldt 07/23/10
Thanks for inviting me to the table and the family celebration. I felt like I was there.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/25/10
This is a great tribute. It did give me flashbacks to contestants on fear factor trying to down the 100 year old eggs. But it was a great description of many food I will never be brave enough to try.
AnneRene' Capp07/26/10
I found this not only enjoyably informative but warm hearted in such a family legacy of ministry.
Lollie Hofer07/28/10
No way would I have eaten those eggs either. This was a lovely story of devotion and dedication to God and serving others.
Beth LaBuff 07/28/10
I can't imagine trying to eat those eggs. :) I so enjoyed this reunion and celebration with your family, and the heart-warming details, like being able to pick up peanuts with chop-sticks. Öand I could totally relate to the "meat and potatoes." :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/28/10
I enjoyed the details of the Chinese dinner in your story and found your description of the 100-year-old eggs more than sufficient reason not to try them.
Caitlyn Meissner07/28/10
I'm not a big fan of eggs anyway, but 100 year old eggs? :P Thanks for this fun read. :)
Edmond Ng 07/28/10
A delicacy beyond the usual taste. Interesting!