I’m not sure that it would be described on a menu as Before-and-After Chicken*, but that’s what we ate at the Aishanmen village Eco Farm Restaurant, outside Yangshuo. We ordered according to our usual protocol when faced with a menu without pictures or English. I’ll call it point and shoot. Pick a random line of Chinese text close to the top of the menu (because that’s where all the best dishes are), and sit back, relax, and see what appears. Hopefully not duck tongues or entrails.
In this case, I need to set the scene. The Eco Farm Restaurant should be called the Working Farm with a Few Tables and Chairs, because it’s less of a restaurant, and more of a farm serving occasional food. You sit outside amongst the pigs and chickens, under a passionfruit vine, and the waitress is the daughter of the old guy who runs the place.
Having pointed at the menu, what happened next was that the old guy walked out of his shed with a large butterfly net, and tried to catch one of the chickens under our feet. I guess it’ll be some sort of chicken dish then. He ran around, and around, and around but no chicken went into that net. Every time he ran at them they scattered in every direction. The rooster looked on in haughty amusement, knowing full well he was too tough to be eaten. His daughter, watching the circus, gave the old man enough time to avoid losing face, walked up to the first chicken, grabbed it by the wing, and walked to the back of the farmhouse. The old man shook his head and followed, carrying a small sharp hatchet.
Twenty minutes later we had a steaming plateful of chicken fried with local wine and peppers, and we ate every morsel.
*Actually why not? I’ve eaten Yellow Lamp Nausea Chicken and Chicken Cooked in Diesel Oil before, both were delicious.