美国夫妇把鞠躬理解为中国话里的 “别客气”。看来可以确定， 这些老太太的确是厨师，而且是非常讲礼貌的厨师。
Business Travel: Cruising on the Yangzi River
Earlier in this series, I mentioned taking an American couple on a boat down the Yangzi River in 1978.
They were first timers to China, full of enthusiasm, curiosity, and good intentions with regard to respecting local customs. They were also pretty adventurous when it came to eating local cuisine.
In their imagination they were also brave and daring pioneers, reaching far into the Chinese hinterland, where few white men had ever been. This was of course nonsense, but it was a common fantasy for foreigners coming to China in the early days.
The culinary high point was our first dinner in Chongqing before boarding the boat. It was August, when Chongqing becomes one of China’s three furnace cities. We had a wonderful Chinese dinner in the hotel, washed down by cold Qingdao beer.
My American friends absolutely loved the food that evening. They had never had real Sichuan food in America. The hotel food was not the real knock-your-socks off Chongqing ma-la cuisine, but it was very good nonetheless.
So excited and grateful were they, that after dinner , both of them wanted to go and personally thank the chef. So off they went in the direction of the kitchen, while I settled the bill.
After settling the bill, I went to find them. They had not quite made it to the kitchen, when they bumped into a group of older Japanese tourist ladies who had also just finished dinner and were leaving the restaurant.
My American friends mistook the Japanese tourist ladies to be the chefs.
“Are you the chefs who cooked us that marvelous meal?” the red-haired American asked with a big friendly smile. “It was delicious!” his wife chimed in.
The Japanese ladies did not speak a word of English. They were clueless as to what this effusively friendly display by the American couple was all about. So they did what they would do when in doubt in such circumstances.
They bowed, deeply.
The American couple misunderstood this bow to mean “You are welcome “ in Chinese. This seemed to confirm that these were indeed the chefs, and very polite ones at that.
So the Americans bowed in response, deeply.
And the Japanese ladies bowed again.
And the Americans bowed again.
By the time I reached the spot, the bow-fest was tapering off through exhaustion, and the Japanese ladies went on their way.
I broke the news to the American couple and asked the waitress to see if the real chef could come out to receive their thanks, which he did. No bows this time.
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