Despite many shared meals with the tour group, it was these small lovelies that truly satisfied my stomach pangs and fit my spiritual hunger. The most pleasurable moments of my trip arrived when I followed herds of locales into their eateries…guess I am a moveable feast. I liked being able to follow my own hunger and satisfy it with goodies gobbled up by the folks that lived there.
In Xian, I broke from my tour and found the outdoor market. Outside a stall, a group of 12 people shoved and pushed and grabbed as two ladies spun spider-web like concoctions of sugar around nuts, and taffy. Sticky, sweet and warm.
Then, I stumbled upon a glass cart where I waited 10 minutes to have this HEAVENLY dough cake transferred into my cold fingers, the heat warming them instantly, and my mouth watering. Immediately, a third of it pressed through my lips, and WOW!
You know how crunchy outside and gooey bread can simply yet significantly improve your mood? Instant elevation…a Chinese “churro” effect, and I exclaimed “wow!” so vehemently, an English speaking youth took my picture and explained it was fried Persimmon cake. It was 30 cents.
Roaming about Shanghai half starved from a morning of good bargaining, I treated myself to a roadside tortilla stand. Each patron tells the maker what he wants inside, and she stuffs it with, in my case, tofu, egg, bean sprouts, onions, and mushrooms. Lunch was 50 cents, and another 30 cents for a pear.
Another incredibly meal ($1) came from Golden fried tofu, soft on the inside like a spreading goat cheese, but doughnut like crispy skin (and the steam was heavenly)
A few of my lovely snacks: Mung green mochi filled with red bean paste, the outside stretchy and almost dough like in consistency and the center smoky sweetness
Steamed bun with vegetables, again steaming and lovely and typical breakfast fare, lunch or snack on the go.
But I REALLY loved the Taiwanese bread rolls at bakeries around China. This one is a flaky onion like dough wrapped around melted asiago cheese, some pickled vegetable and smoked meat.
This one has tiny shreds of pork flavored with chili sauce, then is smeared over a croissant dipped in custard butter. Yep. Intensely like no-other pastry I’ve sampled. And I would go back for more…
I think I love cheap fare while traveling. In fact, my perfect traveling days involves a European hotel buffet breakfast, stall food through out the day, a mid afternoon café, and following ambulatory explorations, reminiscing and chatting over a nice dinner.
That’s the way I like it.