Friday, February 15, 2008

Chinese food

Too many years ago now, I spent a summer living in Taiwan. I lived with a Taiwanese family, took the bus to work every day, and even ate out and went shopping on my own despite not speaking more than a few words of Chinese. I tried all kinds of food, including 'thousand year eggs' - which I was amazed to find I quite liked.

The only thing I was offered and decided I was not even going to try was chicken feet.

A few years later, I went on a package tour to mainland China. I was amazed at how reluctant the Americans on the tour were to try the food. One of their major complaints was that the food wasn't like the Chinese food served at their local restaurant at home in the US. Ironically, one of my complaints about the food we had on the first 2 days of the trip was that it was NOT typically Chinese! Fortunately, there were two Chinese-American families on the tour - I sat with them at mealtimes so I didn't have to put up with constant whining about the food.

On our last day in China we had lunch at a Dim Sum restaurant in Guangzhou. The Chinese-Americans and I had a GREAT lunch - the Americans were all not eating in anticipation of getting to Hong Kong and being able to eat western food again. We did the rounds of all the tables helping ourselves to all the goodies they were ignoring!

The Americans were ecstatic when we finally arrived late at night in Hong Kong and they headed off to the Hard Rock Cafe. One commented that she was looking forward to a milkshake - her first milk product in over 3 weeks. I asked why she hadn't had any milk, yogurt or cheese in China? Although many Chinese are lactose intolerant, they provided those foods for the Americans in the hotels. She hadn't liked the milk because it was served warm. She hadn't seen the yogurt because it was not served in little plastic containers with foil tops. She hadn't wanted the cheese because it was served at breakfast time and "cheese is not breakfast food."

While the others in the group ate bagels, cereal (with cold milk) and yogurt (from plastic containers) for breakfast in the hotel in Hong Kong, I delighted in eating things like teryaki salmon, rice porridge, and steamed buns with barbecued pork filling. Why go abroad and eat the same things I would have at home?


Expat mum said...

I so agree. One of things that bugs me here is that I an sit on a plane for four hours and still be in the States. Arrgh!

Little Britainer said...

English people can be pretty stick-in-the-mud about 'strange' food too, but I think we take to it more than our reputation for cooking veg to within an inch of its life and bad restaurants gives us credit for. I also lived in Argentina and I have never met people so pig-headed when it came to food. If it wasn't Italian or steak, it was generally eyed with real suspicion. And heaven help you if you gave them something spicey or hot. They were unadventurous, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. I get so annoyed when people go abroad only to come and moan about the food or the weather being too hot.

A while ago I worked with a girl who went to Spain for a 2 week holiday. Upon her return I asked her how it went. "It was too Spanish," she replied.

Crystal xx

Almost American said...

Yes, it's amazing how unadventurous people of any nationality can be when they travel. Sometimes travel broadens the mind, and other times it seems to narrow it :-(

Anonymous said...

It's a great shame when people refuse to try different food. I'm game to taste just about anything. Perhaps that's why I've put on so much weight since moving to France.

Anonymous said...

I have been to Taiwan and ate in a great traditional restaurant where you picked out your ingredients e.g. onions, meat etc & then they made you a kind of soup. It looked terrible but was gob smackingly gorgeous!

"Don't eat with your eyes" comes to mind!


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