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Relive Nixon's 1972 trip to China

February 2, 2011 3:05:21 PM PST
During a historic trip to China in February of 1972, President Nixon met with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. During this monumental encounter, Nixon and Enlai broke bread and shared a meal, one that would be recreated years later.The trip is an inspiration for "Nixon in China", a new production at the Metropolitan Opera. Director and writer Peter Sellars says, "The idealism of it and the giddiness of it and sheer positivity of it are really very powerful and kind of exhilarating and deeply moving at the same time."

Although there is no food on stage during the banquet scene, the restaurant Shun Lee West makes up for what is missing. The owner of Shun Lee, Michael Tong, is more than familiar with the menu served in 1972 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He says, "They got information that American people might not want to eat rice, only bread, so they had bread on the table, butter on the table." Nearly forty years ago, he recreated the menu at his East Side location and continues the tradition each year through the month of February.

During the meal, Nixon dined on a variety of food including prawns and shark fin soup which has been replaced by sea bass since it is no longer served. Michael says, "We're doing this as something fun, good memories, and as a Chinese, I am proud of what China is today and I wish it's a sign of the new relationship moving forward and benefiting both countries." As for the production, "Nixon in China", there is a part where the cast rises for a symbolic toast, representing the reconciliation of two nations.

LINK: www.shunleewest.com

LINK: www.metoperafamily.org

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