Our 2016 Christmas Eve Home Party

Family United

As Valerie came over for the holidays, the 2016 Christmas Eve Home Party returned to its traditional formula, in our home office, transformed for the occasion by shifting furniture around. We needed to be a bit creative as the space has become a bit tight by moving in all our stuff we re-imported last year.

(My preferred wishes)
Of course the famous turkey was on the menu, the best you can taste in the world, super tender and juicy, not the dry bird stuffed with even drier whatevers you eat in 5-star hotels. All dishes home-made without exception (OK we did not cultivate the smoked salmon, agreed).

The invasion

2016 Christmas Eve Home Party is normally for family, close Chinese friends and a reduced quota of foreigners. Even so we had a variety of American, British, Belgian, Lithuanian and Romanian guests.
The fun part is the total chaos with 50 guests running around, drinking and eating a lot. Pretty relaxed, the least to say. All made possible as many hands were there to help by the last preparations and the cleaning up.
You can also see a glimpse of my Beijing-Belgian-Beer-Bottles collection (well over 100!) in the kitchen. I hope we won’t have an earthquake.

The Great Hall of the People: ode to Zhou Enlai

As Sun Bin is deeply involved in the study of China’s period under Zhu De, Zhou Enlai and of course her grandfather Sun Bingwen, we get involved in unusual events. Like this one in the afternoon of 17 February. We thought at first it was a “small event”, till we reached the gates and saw half of Beijing was there queuing up to enter. We were in that huge hall that filled up completely. And me the only foreigner…
Boring at first, it was pretty interesting. For Sun was it rather emotional as it showed the old times, so many memories for her.
On stage, the original seat of Zhou Enlai. And some of the most famous singers in China’s history, some like 90 years old.
Also the “Third Red Generation”, the ones all with a long red scarf.

I was moved by what I consider to be one of the most beautiful pieces of Chinese music. See here the story behind it:

The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo (梁山伯) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), whose names form the title of the story. The title is often abbreviated to Liang Zhu (梁祝). The legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai is set in the Eastern Jin dynasty (265-420 CE). The Butterfly Lovers is also known as China’s play of Romeo and Juliet.
In 1950s, Chen Gang (陈钢) composed the internationally famous violin concerto themed with Liangzhu, and in 1954, ex-premier Zhou Enlai introduced the movie named Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, China’s first colored opera-type artistic movie, to the journalists of the world when he attended at the Geneva Conference, and then this movie based on the love story was widely called Chinese Romeo and Juliet. In a short time, this story becomes internationally famous.

The internationally famous violin concerto named Liangzhu or The Butterfly Lovers: see here one of the many versions. Just simple moving….

There are also versions with erhu instead of violin. Great stuff.
See also the old picture of The Great Hall and Tiananmen, when I arrived in Beijing it was still nearly like that: no barriers anywhere. Now, to go there or leave there, what a fuss. All that security. Times have changed and not always for the better.

That special day: 31 December

Well, it is not really mystery anymore I guess. That day is also my birthday.
A special day for me, to review both the calendar year and my year.
I follow a ritual since many years: I disappear for the day to get away from everything.
But the evening is obvious: the family heads to Morel’s Restaurant for the celebration of my birthday and New Year’s Eve.

This time only the two of us as our daughter Valerie has moved to Brussels, but ended up spending her Christmas and New Year with our friends in Vienna. Stella, the wife of our good friend Peter joined us as Peter was on a concert tour in Europe.
As it happens a number of good friends were there too to wish me a nice Bday.
Thanks to all, and thanks to Susan and Renaat for the great food and service.
Oh well the pics are not that great because we were simply too busy enjoying ourselves!

The chefs agree: food in restaurant SWAGAT is great!

On 20 February a triple birthday party at SWAGAT Indian restaurant, in SOHO Guanghua. As Morel’s Restaurant is closed during Chinese New Year, Susan, Renaat and Gordon could join us all to try out the food. Most normally are that “hot” for Indian food but all the chefs agreed the dishes are really tasty. Our friend Nendu does a great job and also has one of the few genuine clay “Tandoori” ovens (uses charcoal). Actually Renaat imported the very first of those in Beijing in the early nineties, for an Indian restaurant. The oven was inspected by our demanding team…

Valerie was on standby for her work and had to work on mails and other.
The only problem is we simply ate too much and nothing was left over… no need for doggy bag…

Our Christmas Eve Mega Buffet at home, chaos and fun!

I guess this time we beat our record. In total 74 for our chaotic, relaxed buffet party at our Julong home office. The office is then always turned upside down, see the first pics how it looked like before the party started and then how it was back to normal on Christmas. Thanks to the many helping hands, and a great BRAVO for our Chef in the kitchen, Sun Bin! All the food, including the enormous turkey, the lamb and much more were all prepared at our home.

We had over ten nationalities, including Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, Austria, UK, USA, Israel, Senegal, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Philippines, Iran. And oh yes, China!!!
Christmas, even if one is not religious, is still the time to forget politics, race and all, and just be friends enjoying a good time.
Thanks to all for making this a great evening. Wishing all of you a Happy 2015 and see you next year!