Beggar’s Chicken – Friday Fictioneers, July 2014

Copyright Marie-Gail Stratford

Alice’s meal, chosen by Hector, arrived with a resounding fanfare and enthusiastic applause from other diners.

She stared at the clay ball nestling on a bed of lotus leaves, and looked up nervously as a silver hammer was presented with a flourish.

More applause, louder this time.

Alice hated being the centre of attention. Moreover she was tired of Hector and his overbearing ways. She’d tell him so tonight.

She smashed the clay surface with one blow, revealing a diamond ring mounted on a steaming chicken.

The room went positively ballistic.

This, Alice thought, might be more difficult than she’d imagined.

I once had Beggar’s Chicken in a restaurant in Hong Kong.  The ritual was every bit as embarrassing as this, though regrettably there was nothing more interesting than delicious chicken inside the clay covering.  We also had ‘thousand year egg‘ at the same meal.  😦 

Friday Fictioneers is on the menu for the next few days, with Rochelle in the role of majordomo, performing it with her customary tact and diplomacy. 


About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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78 Responses to Beggar’s Chicken – Friday Fictioneers, July 2014

  1. Dear Sandra,

    Oh dear. This certainly does complicate the issue, doesn’t it. I feel a tad sorry for Hector. Nicely done as always.




  2. Thank you for expanding my mind on Beggar’s Chicken and Century Egg. What a great idea for a marriage proposal!! Hector probably shouldn’t have counted his chickens before they smashed…


  3. Sandra, Good story and well written as always. I also felt sorry for Hector. She waited a bit too long. At least the ring was in a location where she didn’t swallow it as is sometimes shown in the movies. That sounds like an interesting dish though. Well done. 🙂 —Susan


    • Sandra says:

      This is a bit of a personal nightmare of mine Susan, one I seemed to enact several times in my younger days. I was always at the bail-out point when the guy was at the ‘let’s make a commitment’ phase. I remember once being taken home to meet someone’s parents the very night I was planning to call it a day…can’t imagine what he told them when he got back from taking me home afterwards. 😦


  4. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Eat the chicken, return the ring. Hector will thank her in the long run and learn something in the short run. Like a good lawyer, he should never have asked a question he didn’t know the answer to.

    Another great story from the fabulous kitchen of your imagination.




  5. Sandra, although it would be an uncomfortable situation to actually be in, this had me laughing. Good thing the ring was somewhere she could easily see it or it might have been upsetting to get back and return. 🙂 Hector seems a bit ostentatious, so he may have a hard time taking no for an answer.

    As for you, glad you made it to Neville.



  6. camgal says:

    Aww the poor darling. She should break it to him kindly, so to speak. Interesting take on the prompt especially the scenery.


  7. Ha! You are the master of the unexpected twist at the end. Since I despise public proposals, I feel Hector (aptly named) should get what he deserves. Don’t go all wobbly now, Alice.


  8. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    Yikes. Well, this is just symptomatic of his controlling, isn’t it. I knew a couple — divorced now, as was foretold by myself (I always know, darling) where the man proposed to the woman in public, in a bar, on a stage — typical of him. To force the issue in public.
    I say she should take the opportunity to publicly humiliate him, but then, I’m in a cruel mood.


  9. yarnspinnerr says:

    That is truly innovative.


  10. I foresaw (is that a word?) the ring and thought Uh-oh when she decided to “tell him tonight.” Well told story.


  11. Sarah says:

    Great story, Sandra! I didn’t really feel that sorry for Hector–seems like he didn’t have a good read on his girlfriend.


  12. Yeah, a bit more difficult indeed. It reminds me of videos I’ve seen of elaborate proposals where the woman says no and there is a huge awkward silence. I feel a bit bad for Hector but apparently he’s oblivious enough not to see the signs.


  13. Indira says:

    Did she tell him after all?I’ll be happy if she did. Very nicely written. Great story.


  14. claudia says:

    This was wonderful. I never saw the ring coming at all…can imagine her face when she saw it!


  15. paulmclem says:

    I thought she was going to brutally assault Hector with the hammer. Perhaps she will later 🙂


  16. Interesting, especially after the comment I left you on my story.


  17. storydivamg says:

    Nicely done, Sandra. Funny, I’ve always considered such public proposals to be the theatrics of an insecure control freak. I guess your character is learning this first hand.

    As to the ornate meals and dining rituals, I find them exciting on occasion. One thing I strongly dislike about American culture is the gluttonous way in which so many consume food without respect for the preparation or the preparers. These types of Eastern rituals over special dishes, many of which took hours or even days to prepare, seem to add a sanctity that is often lacking in modern chow halls. (Just a few thoughts of mine. I will now step down from my soapbox.)



    • Sandra says:

      There do seem to be more customs in the East; it can be so easy to offend. Thanks for reading and commenting Marie-Gail.


      • storydivamg says:

        Just in case there was any question, I am certainly not offended. 🙂 My daddy spent 18 months in Korea as a young man and made sure that we understood many of the dining customs as we grew up. I imagine that often the places where food has been the most sparse are the places where these types of traditions sprout up, for better or worse.

        Marie Gail


  18. Poor Hector has no idea what is coming for him! I find the ritual very interesting. But I also don’t like being the center of attention. I tend to blush (for hours).


  19. helenmidgley says:

    Nicely woven, I’d leave the chicken and tale the ring 😉


  20. Carrie says:

    Oh, that does complicate matters. Nice little twist at the end 🙂


  21. What to say? Been there, done that. You painted it well, Sandra.


  22. high five and raspberries says:

    I’m with Helen on this one..take the diamond and run..anyone making a public proposal when they are not completely certain of the response has a few loose screws! Great story..and I learned about thousand year eggs…yech


  23. Feeling sorry for poor Hector! As always, a lot of both story and nuance in a very few words.


  24. good story, but reminds me:
    Never hit pots of clay,
    or you might get feet of clay.



  25. Funny story…and somehow i feel like She won’t run or say no 🙂


  26. draliman says:

    Oh dear, poor woman! I wonder what she’ll do now?
    It would be my personal nightmare to be in a restaurant with everyone looking on, staring at some weird dish and everyone waiting to see what I’ll do.


  27. Hannah says:

    I wouldn’t want to be on display while eating…especially if there was a surprise (and unwelcome!) proposal involved. Great story!


  28. wmqcolby says:

    Ohhh that really puts a damper on things, doesn’t it? Well-done, Sandra! Always a pleasure to read your stuff.
    By the way, was I the only one who got hungry while writing? Hahaha!


  29. ContactRida says:

    ha! hard to swallow too:) great story!


  30. dianathrelfo says:

    Sandra, I love your take on the photo prompt. What a dilemma! Freedom and independence OR a diamond ring and Hector!


  31. MrBinks says:

    Poor Hector 😦
    Really well written, as ever.


  32. misskzebra says:

    Thousand year egg? You’re very brave if you’ve tried it. I’ve heard many things about them, and I’m under the impression they’re quite an acquired taste. 🙂


  33. rgayer55 says:

    I’ve always thought those public proposals were a little over the top. I don’t feel sorry for him, but it certainly makes her task more difficult. A great piece of writing, Sandra.


  34. K.Z. says:

    complicated indeed. i’d take the chicken and the ring and then leave hector 🙂 when i was younger i wanted some huge public marriage now i’m not sure if i even want a big wedding. great story as always 🙂


  35. Alice Audrey says:

    I actually like thousand year egg, though I can see how others might not. I’d probably get into the beggar chicken too.


  36. Dee says:

    Loved this Sandra, well written as usual.
    I am smiling as I write this, as I remember being out with my parents when I was about 18, we called in for a meal at a very popular country inn.
    A couple were sitting at the next table and the man ‘did a Hector’ with a Baked Alaska! It was hilarious, the girl wasn’t very impressed and stormed out. I thought the gesture romantic, my father called the poor embarrassed man a name I hadn’t heard him use before!!!


  37. Subroto says:

    Ah poor overbearing Hector. Maybe she could put that hammer to better use ala “bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer..”.


  38. Michael B. Fishman says:

    Poor Alice just found out the meaning of bad timing. I’m curious to find out what her next move is!


  39. Oh no. I so wish Alice would simply say, No. This may not end well for either of them! 😉


  40. The others have said it for me. The pompous git.


  41. Sarah Ann says:

    Would love to know how she extricates herself from this one. Thanks for the lesson on beggar’s chicken too. 🙂


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