Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chinese Food - Hungry Again After 30 Minutes?

Ok, it's my blog.  I'm going to write what I want.  And I am not going to apologize.  So don't even ask.  And don't try to shame me.  I am a cradle Catholic.  I know shame.

That being said, let's talk about Chinese food.  I think I have a love affair with it.  It's true.  I'm pretty sure I am the only American who can go to China and gain weight.  So that's why I titled this post with an old stereotype.... eat all the Chinese food you want and you're hungry again in a half hour.

My personal experience with authentic Chinese food in places like Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou is far different from what you find in the US and what you might expect in China.  First of all, drop all expectations.  1 - From what I could discover, they don't eat dog in China, at least not in any local restaurants that cater to the local residents and foreigners.  And I asked.  Maybe they used to, maybe all the dogs have been eaten, I don't know.  But for the time I was there, I was told, "we don't eat dog."  2 - If you eat good Chinese food, you won't go away hungry and you won't be hungry in 30 minutes.  Good Chinese cuisine is delicate, intricate, layered and unbelievable in the myriad of flavors they expose.  3 - There is some Chinese food you should never eat.
Sea cucumber is one such product (above).  Don't let the locals sway you with talk of how delicious it is.  (MEN! don't let them tell you how good it is for your virility.)  Don't believe them when they say it is a delicacy.  Though I guess in some provinces it is a delicacy.  But it does not suit the American palate.  Though it does not really have a strong flavor, the way it was served called up my gag reflex.  Served in a cool, yellow sauce of indeterminate substance, I grabbed my piece of sea cucumber with my chop sticks, brought it decisively up to my smiling lips, and just as I was about to sink my teeth into it, my Italian dining partner gagged a little to my right.  He had just "tasted" it.  How could I abort?  How could I return it to my plate without offending my host?  Couldn't be done.  I ate it.  And I too gagged.  Silently.  It's not the flavor, it's the consistency.  The cool temperature combined with the slightly fleshy, slightly pudding-like texture was so unexpected I couldn't process in my head that this was a food substance. 

Not to worry though.  There is SO MUCH good food in China.  No, there is really some yummy delicious authentic Chinese food.  Once you taste it, you may never eat Chinese food in America again.
This is not one of them though.  I saw this on one of the menus and had to take a picture of it.  It makes me think of a pygmy hippo coated in teriyaki bbq sauce swimming up through a lake of little bok choy bits.  Not appetizing, yet intriguing....
 Last on the list of things you shouldn't try while in China is this little scrumptious bit.  I don't remember what it was and I can't really define it, but when you bite into it, you will be reminded of the thrill of biting into a piece of steak or pork or chicken, expecting a delicious meat-like flavor and texture to be met instead with a chunk of gristle and fat.  Yes.  This one, is also a no-no.

So I started today's comments talking about the glorious splendors of the intricate flavors of Chinese cuisine and spent the entire time telling you about less than delicious foods.  And I'm sorry for that.  But, I have yet to find my photos of the good stuff (two moves across a state and then across the country) so I have to apologize (even tho I said at the beginning of this I would not apologize...)  So... stay tuned for Chinese food part two.  Once I find my photos, I will be back.  ciao!

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