1000 year old egg I don’t know how many of you have ever attended a Pentecostal church service, or hung around Christians of that persuasion for any meaningful length of time. The last time I spoke with someone I knew was Pentecostal was back in Tennessee; apparently in the UK it’s the fastest-growing Christian denomination of belief. They’re not as insular as the Seventh Day Adventists, but they’re at least as driven — there’s still the faint whiff of the cult about them. The story of Pentecost is the story of true believers surviving a day of reckoning through God’s grace; a wind from heaven scorches the earth and, among flames, boiling smoke and a blood-red moon, His followers become prophesyers, visionaries and “dreamers”. Essentially, Pentecostalism promises its followers that when the sh1t hits the fan, they will be superheros. Or at least Aquarians. It’s a strange cocktail of doomsday science and unbridled narcissism that apparently proves irresistable to more Britons each year.

Unaware of these tendencies lurking so nearby, I found myself surprised that upon sitting down to a dinner party in Holloway, the pleasant Chinese couple to my right who were cracking flavoured sunflower hulls and sucking out the contents with nimble aplomb announced to me, apropos of absolutely nothing (which is how these things always come out), that they were “very religious”. And left it there, picking at their seeds intently.

There really is little I enjoy less than discussing my dinner companions’ religious predilictions, but you have to say something, so I did.

“We’re Pentecostals,” he said, the mound of hulls having now grown to the size of a small anthill. She looked at me and said “Christian!”

“For 15 years,” the man said, grimly, I thought. After dinner was over he went out to the back patio and smoked the rest of a half-finished cigar, by himself.

Before that, though — but after the sunflower seeds — the entire table tasted what our host called “1000-year-old egg”. A delicacy in China and Hong Kong, 1000-year-old eggs are created by essentially burying eggs in mud for several weeks or months, turning the shell black, the white a translucent amber, and the yolk a mysterious dark green. A bit like some crash-landed alien, thawed out only in order to be eaten. (But will it change us if we do?)

The Chinese Pentecostals dug in, and smiled at our giggles and hesitant sniffing. They had nothing to fear from a 1000-year-old egg.