The restaurant pictured below is almost right outside the gate to our apartment complex. Not surprisingly, we have yet to eat there. Although, of course, what could be better? I mean, if two heads are better than one, then this place must serve some of the best-tasting bird on the planet.
Needless to say we've been laughing at this for months, but we recently discovered that it's not a mistake: nine-headed birds are part of Chinese mythology; and the nine-headed bird reference actually means that it's a Hubei restaurant, although I would guess this fact is lost on most foreigners. Go figure. (Hubei is a province, like Sichuan, Yunnan, and so on. You know, all your major Chinese food groups.)
Anyway, Holly read that there's an ancient Chinese saying--as if any Chinese saying could not be ancient?--that goes something like: "In heaven there are nine-headed birds, on earth there are Hubei people." Uh-huh. So there are weird-ass things in heaven, like nine-headed birds; and there are weird-ass things on Earth, like Hubei people. Quite flattering for all the Hubei natives, I'm sure.
And as if that wasn't strange enough, I just found out that the saying might actually go something more along the lines of: "In heaven there's a nine-headed bird monster; on earth, there's Hubei people." (Possibly "cunning Hubei people"; there are different versions.) Apparently nine-headed birds are known for being mean and vicious, so I guess Hubei people are also, although--depending on what version of the saying is correct--they may be known for being cunning, as well.
Whatever. Either way, I am pretty sure that if you ever meet someone who tells you they're from Hubei, you should just run the other direction, because nothing good can come of it. But then again, if they are as cunning as advertised, they'll probably tell you they're from someplace else--Beijing, Xi'an, or somewhere like that--so you're screwed. Oh well. But at least now you know, right? Yeah, I guess not. Oh well ...See Hmmm 1 and Hmmm 2 for more.