China Comes to Franklin

Most of you probably already know that Husband travels to China two or three times a year. Along with racking up some impressive frequent flier miles, he’s also gotten to know some of the people he deals with over there pretty well. They always go out of their way to treat him as “VIP American.” For the last few weeks, we’ve been able to repay the hospitality that his Chinese colleague has always shown him.

Kevin came to Franklin.


This wasn’t just Kevin’s first trip to the U.S.–it was his first trip out of China. Travel for the Chinese isn’t as easy as it for us Americans and he had to apply for his visa in person at the American consulate near his home. But he and Husband have traveled a lot in China and have spent lots of time together. Husband really wanted him to have fun while he was here, as well as see the company they work for.

Many people have asked what he liked best, or what was the biggest difference. I think it was probably just the space. Most Chinese live in crowded conditions–high rise apartments, jam-packed buses and trains and sidewalks that are teeming with people. He laughed when we were riding the escalator at the mall and I commented on how crowed it was. He said that in China the escalators accommodate four across and every step is full.

Food was tricky at first.

  • chicken casserole was an epic fail
  • a homemade chocolate chip cookie was spat out (something I didn’t know until after he left)
  • a sausage biscuit with one bite out of it was discreetly put in the trash

Other items were big hits:

  • single barrel, 9-year-old reserve bourbon
  • guacamole and barbecue were popular
  • he even tried a few different kinds of cheese, but he absolutely drew the line at Roquefort

I ordered in “Chinese” one night–that’s when Kevin had his first egg roll and his first fortune cookie. He had never seen either of them before and he took a fortune cookie home to show everyone there what Americans call Chinese food.

But if there’s one food he’ll remember from his time in the U.S., it’s beef. We don’t eat a lot of beef, but Husband said he really wanted to treat Kevin because beef isn’t something they have a lot of–and when they do have it, it’s in small pieces. We had grilled steak, hamburgers (of course) and pot roast.

On his last night, we took him a local steakhouse in downtown Nashville.

Kevin had the bone-in ribeye. It tasted as good as it looks and he ate every bite. After dinner, we headed to Nashville’s famous Honky Tonk district.

And here he is in front of Nashville’s most famous bar.

He was here for 17 days. We discussed politics for about 15 minutes. I know that he adapted to Franklin (at least on the surface) much more gracefully than I would adapt to China.



Filed under At Home, Travel

16 responses to “China Comes to Franklin

  1. these are the interactions that flatten the world! whether they come about through business, or the internet/blogging, i am convinced that someday these pixels of trust will change the future of planet earth!

  2. What a fantastic post! Where did he learn to speak our language? And why, if he never leaves the country? Does Husband speak Chinese? If so, what dialect? And what was Kevin’s real name? Can I come to dinner and interview him?

  3. Julie

    Elvis is alive!!!! And so is good diplomacy and good neighborliness in Franklin, Tennessee. Good fences don’t make good neighbors (was it Robert Frost who thought they did?), but good steaks obviously do.

  4. I’m delurking to say that I love your blog.

    And to say that I think this is one of the most interesting glimpses into what China is really like that I’ve read. I can’t imagine anyone not like chocolate chip cookies, but I do understand liking bourbon.

    I wonder what Kevin’s take on the USA will be. Suppose we’ll never know for sure.

  5. Neice Whit

    Great Blog Tante! Now I am hungry! Nevermind I am always hungry. 🙂

  6. mother

    Kevin was a delightful dinner guest at my house. I am the one that served the chicken casserole – and also a cherry icebox pie. He ate the cherries on top. But I was really impressed with his command of the english language and his nice manners.

  7. Wait…he didn’t eat the COOKIE? What the hell? It’s a damn cookie. Cookies are delicious. I am awestruck. And confused, very very confused. How…I mean, who…? Ellipses?

  8. DF–That’s the truth–hard to dis an entire country when you have friends there.
    UB–He started learning English as a child, which is the custom there. He would like to travel more, I think, but Chinese people have great restrictions put on them. I’m not sure how much of that is imposed by their government or by others who don’t want Communists visiting. Husband does not speak Chinese, except for a few phrases (train station, hotel, I do not understand, beer). He also recognizes a few characters. His real name is unpronounceable. Next time he comes, I’ll let you know and you can interview him yourself over a slab o’beef and and bourbon.
    Julie–he’s always gone out of his way to help Husband over there, so we had to return the favor.
    Ally–Thanks for visiting Franklin and for delurking. Always glad to meet a new reader. Husband will be over there in the near future, and I’m sure he’ll find out more about his impressions.
    Whit–True dat. Lunch again soon?
    Mother–He said the most interesting pictures he took were of your dinner table.
    Rass…I know…a HOMEMADE chocolate chip cookie…with walnuts…and the good butter…oh well…more for me.

  9. Food is so weird, isn’t it? I just can’t imagine what’s not to like in a chocolate chip cookie or a chicken casserole, but I guess the Japanese waiters maybe thought the same when you couldn’t swallow the gloopy glook you were served at your sushi meal.

  10. Nancy Williams

    Cindy–this is great. Too funny about the fortune cookie!

  11. I love house guests but hats off to you — 17 days is a long time to be second guessing the taste buds of another national. I had to look up sausage biscuit and I now feel for Kevin. Maybe the lack of soy in ‘American food’ made a discreet spitter out of him?

  12. Ooh and funky new header! (bu-bye hydrangeas…)

  13. PG–Exactly! No sea urchin for me, thank you very much.
    Nancy–It was so funny–he was really dumbstruck by it.
    Nimpipi–Oh no–sausage biscuits are heaven-sent. Also, they were traveling part of the time, so it wasn’t 17 days in a row. Also, the header is from a pub is Salisbury. Just across the street is another one making the same claim.
    Ellie–He was an interesting guy and really, really smart.

  14. That bone in ribeye is food porn at its best. Food is a funny thing and sometimes I think it comes down to texture as much as flavor. A great deal of the Asian desserts I have eaten are very glutinous and gelatinous from the rice rather than wheat flour. It was a texture that I initially disliked but grew to love after I learned I was allergic to all things wheat. The texture of the cookie and cake probably seem to him pasty and floury. I suppose the texture of good bourbon is near universal.

  15. Chris–Kevin just had a visceral reaction to anything sweet. But he loved his beef and he really liked his bourbon!

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