I think one of the hardest parts of traveling is being without the food you grew up with. However, thanks in large part to the Travel Channel, I entered China with a zest to try anything I could get my hands on. Here is a little introduction to what I have experienced so far.
Meals are presented in a completely different way than in America. In America, you order a dish and it is your dish. In China, every dish ordered is shared by the entire table. If a beef soup with noodles is ordered, the whole table is allowed to help themselves. This style of eating is something I am truly enjoying. There is no longer the stress of getting the wrong dish. If there is something on the table you don’t like, don’t eat it. There is plenty of variety and plenty to share.
That being said, there hasn’t been anything I haven’t enjoyed. Last night, a group of collegues and I had food from western China, near Afghanistan. The hearty dishes were full of mutton, bread and potatoes — none of which I have had much of when eating dishes local to Shanghai and southern China. There was even a dish with stomach and peppers, which I thought to be particularly tasty. And the way I look at it, if you have eaten haggis in Scotland, you can eat just about anything.
Earlier in the day, for lunch, we had some very local Shanghai cooking. Sesame is s
omething I have eaten in numerous dishes, but not like this before. Inside of these sticky rice balls, were sesame so sweet you would swear it was chocolate or pure sugar cane.
Finally, the beverages. I’m from Wisconsin, people, beer runs in my blood. So, of course, I must try Chinese beer. The Black Beer I tasted last night looked like Coke and tasted like a tame Guinness. I have never been a fan of dark beers, but the people at Sinkiang know what they are doing and they have made a fan out of me.
This, of course, is a very short introduction to the food I have had. But it is not the food that I am missing from America. It’s the forks. Yesterday, while wielding chopsticks, I dropped a dumpling in vinegar and it splashed all over my face. Every day is a learning process, I suppose.