China First Hand

3 March 2006

Food, Glorious Food!

Filed under: Culture,Personal — china1sthand @ 12:13 am

 

I went to karaoke yesterday, and included in the price was a free buffet.  It was your usual Chinese food, but obviously I wanted to try everything!  On the walk home my whole body swelled up.  My fingers got so fat I couldn’t even see the lines on my hands!  I didn’t feel sick, just really uncomfortable.  That night I couldn’t sleep a wink.  After that I was fine, except I wasn’t hungry for days!  What was that all about??!

 

Chinese do eat food that we don’t.  What you have to ask yourself is:  do you judge food on its flavour?  I think that if something sounds dirty to us, we won’t eat it – even if it may be delicious.  China therefore becomes famous for having restaurants that specialise in animal penis for example.  Now I’ve not tried this, but I have eaten a pig’s trotter and that was delicious!  All parts of pig are found on menus in China (lung, intestines, stomach, hoof, tail, ear).  If this sounds disgusting: Why?  Westerners seem to like to hide the fact that meat is an animal.  If you still think what Chinese people eat is disgusting, ask yourself this: When Chinese people love food so much, how come they are all so slim?

 

There are apparently 8 types of food in China (from various regions) although no one could list them all for me!  Sichuan food is hot.  (Everyone kept looking at me saying “are you sure this is not too much for you?”  They don’t realise that Brits like to eat hot curries!)  Hotpots (especially Mongolian) are fun.  A big pot of liquid is put in the middle of the table.  The food you order comes in little slices, so you cook it in the simmering liquid!  Shanghai (mmm chicken feet…) and Beijing (Peking duck) and Hong Kong/Cantonese (most of our Chinese takeaways!) are probably food regions too.  Then there’s southern China, like Guizhou (Gwayjo).  Here they serve rice noodles.  I love these!  Usually, Chinese food is served with either rice or noodles – here you get the best of both worlds!  It’s a bit like a smaller version of the hotpot.  You get a bowl of (very) hot soup and have to put in the additional food in a certain order to cook it properly.  It’s delicious!

 

I’ve really enjoyed trying out different wonderful flavours in China.  This is another benefit of living in the city!  Tasting amazing food has really turned me into a food lover.  Before I came here I couldn’t distinguish a good or bad quality meal.  To me, all food tasted much the same.  Now I think English food is bland and boring!  However, Chinese food isn’t judged by taste alone.  The appearance of the food is also important (but not so much the restaurant decor) and there are two other important aspects to a dish:  the symbolism (often what the words sound like or their appearance in folk tales) and their value to health.  Many foods have ingredients that are used in Chinese medicine.  …Am I allergic to one?

 

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