Eating at the Embassy: A Day with Connie Aldao-Worker
   2013-08-16 16:51:20    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Luo Chun

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On the day of our interview, Connie Aldao-Worker wears small tokens representing each country with which she has a relationship -- a woven belt from Argentina; Hui earrings of beaten metal purchased on a recent trip to China's Guizhou Province; and a beautiful necklace of polished abalone shell from New Zealand. It's clear that each of these cultures holds a special place in her heart. And as the Argentine-born wife of the New Zealand Ambassador to China has a penchant for cooking, it was natural for CRIENGLISH.com to focus on her talents at cross-cultural cooking.

In Argentina she was manager of 1884, an internationally applauded restaurant, so her standards for food and cooking are naturally high. After landing in China in 2009, she dived into local culture, exploring its culinary side. CRIENGLISH.com's Chopsticks & Beyond show knew that she could show us a trick or two.

For a feature video, she created a green shell mussels dish, which heavily drew upon New Zealand and Sichuan cuisines. "What we're doing now is the base," she said, swiftly moving between chopping board and pot. "We have the onions with the butter and garlic. And then we'll add the ginger, fresh coriander, the Chinese green onions and then at the end, the Sichuan pepper oil on the top."

Aldao-Worker and Easy FM host Lucy Luan sat down to enjoy the meal, but not before Aldao-Worker had popped another bottle of wine. "Sauvignon blanc is one of the main varieties of wine that New Zealand has," she informed Luan. The dish was delightfully light and fresh; and the uncommon use of the Sichuan pepper oil and chilies paired together surprisingly well with the flavors of the mussels and wine.

When Aldao-Worker is in China, she is generally busy organizing embassy functions and welcoming delegations from New Zealand. These diplomatic visits do, however, give Connie a chance to shine in her beloved kitchen, working together with resident Chef Li to create exciting delicacies from both east and west -- including New Zealand's signature pavlova. (For the record, Connie bakes a divine version that does her adopted nation proud.)

Of course, adapting to a foreign nation is never an easy task, but Connie's desire to embrace all things Chinese -- from the language to the cuisine -- shows that she has managed to make Beijing her home. And despite all the ups and downs that come from living in a capital city, she knows that she'll miss the sights and smells and tastes of China when the time finally comes to head back to New Zealand.           

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