Li Du felt that the Amish were still not open-minded enough. Since they used electricity, he believed that they should learn to make full use of it.
An electrical loom would be twice as efficient as the foot-treadle floor loom.
He had wanted to ask something else as well: since they used electricity, why did they generate their own instead of connecting to a power station?
But he felt that this would be impolite of him so he chose to keep quiet.
When the chilled tea was ready to be served, Ricky invited the four guests to the backyard to enjoy the tea.
The backyard had tall, lush trees of different types. The scorching rays of the sun were blocked by dense foliage. When a breeze of wind blew past, the whole yard felt cool and refreshing.
Ricky handed Li a cup of chilled tea, cooled by the icy well water. The tea was clear, and it had a fruity fragrance. It seemed like diluted fruit juice.
"Hows the taste?" Tomasson sipped a mouthful of tea and asked.
Li Du nodded and said, "Its very nice, I like the taste."
A few of the Amish people smiled and laughed; one of them spoke in their native language, which Li Du could not understand.
Tomasson explained to Li Du, "This is Pennsylvania German. Benson isnt good at speaking English, but he can understand it. He came from a very traditional family that speaks Pennsylvania German from childhood."
Li Du asked, "And he was saying?"
"Benson said that he thanks you for the compliment, and he thought you might like fruit juice better."
Li Du shook his head and said, "No, no, notheyre not just pretty words, this is better than fruit juice. Fruit juices are too sweet, and I feel uncomfortable if I drink too much. This is perfect, especially good when chilled."
Ashley brought some snacks over to the backyard. There were melon seeds, boiled peanuts, boiled black beans, and nuts such as chestnuts.
Li Du grabbed some melon seeds and noticed that they were raw melon seeds.
Raw melon seeds tasted better than the fried or roasted ones. Raw ones had the original taste and flavor that he never got sick of.
"What do you do for a living?" Ricky asked. "Are you both into scientific research? I thought only ornithologists would be interested in bird skeleton specimens."
Hans laughed, "No. Were treasure hunters in the storage auction business."
Ricky nodded his head. "Ah, I know this. This is similar to a second-hand auction right? Ive seen this type of auction, its interesting."
Hans took a sip of the cooled tea. "There should be quite a lot of people coming here to barter. After all, you have some nice things being passed down from your family."
"Arent you one of those people?" someone chimed in.
The group of men, both Amish and their guests, laughed. Li Du smiled. "Well, I was interested in the specimenIm not trying to make money off of it."
"You should have told us that the specimen wouldnt sell for much," Hans joked. "I feel that unless its a dinosaur specimen, its pretty worthless."
"It should be worth quite a sum of money," Ricky said seriously. "Ashleys grandfather had been following adventurers around and saw that bird specimen. There was hardly anything like it seen in England. However, he forgot the name of the creature."
Li Du did not think much of what Ricky had said. He was more interested in the Amish way of living and their culture.
It was almost lunchtime; Ricky invited Li, Hans, and their friends to stay for a meal, together with Tomasson and the other Amish men as well.
When Li Du politely refused the invitation, Ricky said, "Its just a simple mealplease, if you dont mind, stay and try the food."
Tomasson also tried to persuade him: "Just stay for the meal; all of you are nice young men. We Amish like to be friends with good people. Moreover, we are neighbors as well!"
The Amish were sincere about the invitation. There was no reason to reject the kind offer, so the four of them stayed for lunch.
Li Du suddenly thought about Godzillas enormous appetite. He had to let Ricky know about that.
"My friend here has a very large appetite. I would need to trouble you to prepare more food for him."
Ricky agreed to that instantly: "No problem, the Amish get rich with only their pair of hands and their land. We are quite affluent and live comfortably in our own way."
Tomasson and rest of the Amish men called their wives over to help with preparation and cooking.
The men moved the dining table to join up with the one in the backyard while the children assisted by setting the tables.
Everyone was helping out in an orderly and systematic manner. One could feel the simpler pleasures of life in the harmonious atmosphere.
The Amish tableware and cutlery were of simple designs. They did not like colorful patterns or elaborate decorations; simplicity was their way of life.
Soon, the Amish women brought the dishes to the table. There was cooked chestnut rice, a big pot of lamb stew, cold dishes mixed in wild garlic or in chili oil, fried fish, fried meat, and various stir-fried vegetables, with a rustic flavor of their own.
Hans said to Li Du, "Your culinary skills could come in use herewhy not give it a shot?"
Li smiled and shook his head. "No, we should respect their eating habits instead of showing off. That might be rude."
An interesting observation about the Amish people was: they put some ice on the cold dishes and some on the cut fruits.
Li Du was curious and perplexed at the same time about seeing ice cubes. The Amish do not use refrigerators or any ice makers, so where did these ice cubes come from?
Tomasson answered Lis query when he showed them the cellar where they would make ice cubes during winter and store them during summer. Li was amazed and called the cellar "the legendary cellar."
Just before the Amish sat down to enjoy their meal they needed to pray first.
Li Du and friends stayed on one side and looked on respectfully as the group prayed to God with devotion and sincerity.
The Amishs church was rustic, practical, and long-lasting like their houses. Even today, they did not have churches that were majestic, elegant, or extravagant.
The older, more traditional Amish did not attend church servicerather, they took turns gathering at each others houses and worshipping God.
To many Amish people, their house was like the church too: a married man would take the role of the pastor, the men and women would sit separately to each side, and then they would begin to pray.
So the scene before Li Du was like this: the men were sitting on one side of the table, and the women sat on the other. Someone was reading from an old Bible for their prayer, and all of them repeated after him.
The Amish said their prayers in Pennsylvania German, so Li could not make out what they were saying. He asked Hans, but he doesnt know the language either.
After the prayer ended, it was time to eat.
The food on the table, be it the vegetables or the meat, was all grown and reared by the Amish themselves; there were no pesticides used on their vegetation nor hormone shots on their farm animals.
One would not forget the taste of the Amish cuisine as it had a natural flavor of its own.
Take for instance the cooked chestnut rice: when it was mixed with the rich stewed mutton soup, Li loved the taste; it was something that he had never tried before.
There werent many condiments used for the lamb stew, but they used shallots, ginger, and garlic in the soup, which had a similar flavor to Chinese cuisine.
In this way, the natural taste of the mutton was preserved. Although the taste of the meat itself was average, the soup was lovely.
After the feast, Ashley served the fresh-cut fruit on ice; the ice had started to melt, so the fruits were now chilled.
Hans burped and said, "Wow, the food here tastes so good! We should bring some home."
Tomasson was all smiles when he heard that. "Neighbors should get along with each other," he said. "Come to my place lateryou can pick any type of vegetables you want from my farm."