A Thailand Experience
by René Hasekamp
While in Thailand, you should at least once go to a good Chinese Restaurant and have Peking Duck there. This meal will start with a long wait, because your duck has to be fried first. That takes some time. Then you will get the (very crispy) skin with a kind of pancakes, sauce and some vegetable. While you eat this delicacy, the duck will be prepared further: Your next dish will be duck soup and after that you will get the rest of the duck meat with rice. By all means have Chinese tea with your Peking Duck!
Now, the weak point of this "experience" is, that I do not remember where I had this unforgettable experience, but my wife believes it was in "Rama Gardens Hotel", where the restaurant is far too expensive for Thailand. For that reason I strongly recommend my visitors not to go there, on my page about "Eating out in Thailand". However, if my wife is right, well, you should go there once in your life after all, order Peking Duck, pay the bill without remembering it and get an unequaled experience!
Anyway, if it was in "Rama Gardens" or not, on the occasion I had my first Peking Duck, an unbelievable "performance" was given.
Normally the waiter or waitress will bring you the first dish (the crispy skin with accessories) on a tray and that is that, but not so this time: A waiter came out of the kitchen, pushing a small serving car before him, on which the fried duck was placed on a silver plate. A few paces behind him the cook followed, with a huge knife and a ditto fork in his hands. But not in his bare hands, because the hands were covered with snow-white gloves. He was -in fact- dressed from head to foot in blinding snow-white clothes. When the waiter had placed the car close to our table, the cook (quite a fat Chinese man) approached the table, bowed deeply towards us without speaking a word, sharpened the knife and concentrated for a few moments while closing his eyes.
Then, in an unbelievable tempo, he un-skinned the fried duck. Believe me or not, but we hardly saw anything else than a flashing knife and fork, moving in front of us, in an extremely fast, but accurate way. When the flashing stopped, the skin of the duck was lying in pieces, exactly the right size to eat, on a plate. The cook bowed again deeply and silently and placed the plate on our table. It would have been a natural reaction to applaud after this striking performance, but for some reason we knew that this would not have been appropriate. The cook clapped his white-gloved hands and the waiter hurried to our table in order to bring the serving-car with the un-skinned duck upon it back to the kitchen for preparing the next dishes, as mentioned above. The cook followed the car in exactly the same way as when he came: slowly and a few paces behind it.
This unforgettable "show" was repeated before our eyes two more times that evening near the tables of other guests, who also had ordered Peking Duck. We believe that the cook changed clothes before every "performance", because every time he appeared in blinding white clothes and gloves, without any visible spot.
Now, I repeat my advice to eat Peking Duck at least once. I must tell you however, that I have eaten Peking Duck since in several (good) Chinese restaurants in Thailand, but I have never, ever seen anything close to this "acrobatic" performance! It seems to have been a once-in-a-lifetime event.