Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spoon Goes to China

The fortune cookie that accompanied my meal on the flight read "It could be better, but it's good enough." It was certainly an optimistic view of the awful food they served as we soared over half the world en route from Newark to Beijing. I worried: will I have to adapt this motto as I eat my way around China for the next 10 days? Seven days in, I'm happy to report: bu!

Despite a few missteps, the food I've had in China so far has largely been excellent. Every meal features at least three vegetables, one of which is often baby bok choi. There are flashes of familiarity--something approximating kung pow chicken, the occasional steamed dumpling--but other apparent staples here are completely new to me, like spicy green beans, which have appeared at our tables numerous times, each time better than the last.

Those green beans were a part of a mult-course feast at the beautiful South Beauty in Shanghai, where we noshed on lotus root stuffed with sticky rice, spicy chicken stuffed inside baby pumpkins, shark fin soup, and even a Chinese take on foie gras. We ate with a group of Chinese people I was introduced to through a friend, and laughed our way through the cultural differences between China and the West. Who knew they eat their rice after the meal?

The green beans also showed up yesterday, when we asked our driver to take us to a good local restaurant after trekking up and down the Great Wall at Mutianyu. It was a roadside cafe of sorts, and my friends and I were the only Westerners there. The food was delicious: crispy fried fish, a revelatory eggplant in a tangy brown sauce, spicy chicken with peanuts and of course those green beans. And the meal was punctuated with fireworks! No matter that it was the middle afternoon, and not a holiday. How festive!

Speaking of, it's already Thanksgiving here--and we're getting ready to stage a full-blown American feast over here in Beijing. Should be interesting!--S

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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