Wait! I haven’t DISHED it out yet…..
Sure enough, some of the most pleasurable moments of my trip to China arrived when I followed herds of locales into their eateries.
Here is a review of some of my MEALS!
The first came on day 1. …a simple mustard green soup and vegetable
dumplings and sheep meat dumplings
Dumplings and soup on my first night. 2 dozen dumplings, a mixture of
sheep’s meat and mustard green mushroom and a tofu, mustard green miso
soup. All for about $3.50.
upon an 8 by 8 food stall where you loaded a plastic bin with various
vegetables and meats…and then waited shoulder to shoulder for your
creation to arrive. Those 10 minutes felt like 30, as the locals stared
at me with perplexing grimaces or would whisper and point. But this
build your own “pho” (who knows what the broth really was!) hit my taste
buds with an “A-HA!” and I happily slurped it up. Again, $3.00.
Maybe it is just my style, but I felt more swayed of selections eaten
off the streets and from small local shops or market stalls versus the
meals shared at restaurants with the larger group. To me, most of those dishes shared together were overly masked by oil and over-flavored.
The place settings are often wrapped for each guest.
Something unexpected and yet welcoming…My 6th morning in China, I
devoured a huge hotel breakfast. Almost all the traditional foods of
china plus western favorites were offered. For breakfast, I favoured the
soy sauce infused boiled egg:
place Anthony Bourdain ate at on one of his shows. This is a big steamed
dumpling with soup inside. The “broth” is a concoction of crab roe and
fish. Superb and delicate and layered. Perhaps the food here is now
OVERHyped but the simple dumplings also tasted gloriously fresh.
Also…our last night in Shanghai, we chowed down on some good eats.
Maybe it was because I had some really tasty but cheap Chinese Wine (It
is seriously about $2.50-$3.50 but tasty, made from a Big Company Called
the Great Wall). There are now more than 500 wineries in the country.
This was mighty tasty… (those are shredded potatoes in the front)
Despite many shared meals with the tour group, eating from market stalls
on the go truly satisfied my stomach pangs and fit my spiritual hunger. The meals with the group tended to be less flavourful and tasty, more
salt and oil that in my opinion diluted the taste of the ingredients. My
taste buds didn’t sing at the gatherings.
Did I taste the bitterness of my own sense of overstimulation? A loneliness?
Or did I not jive with the culture itself?
I think it was a combination of commercialism (KFC RULED here!) and loss of tradition in China and my own disappointment… because when I ate what most locals did, well……
….let me introduce you to red bean paste…..next time……