Food in China.

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Before coming to China I did not really like Chinese food. I always found it a bit disappointing and not very tasty. I was dreading a little bit this part of our world trip. Our arrival in Hong Kong confirmed my worst fears. But then mainland China was a wholly different story.

In China there are no inhibitions at what you can eat. French are mocked at for eating frogs and snails. But in China everything is edible. I actually saw dogs for sale in a local market. It is not just a rumour.

But this lack of inhibition gives rise to an incredible variety of food. The backbone of it all is rice or noodles. Therefore whatever else you eat is not necessary for nourishment but for the delight of the palate. A typical meal consists of three or four dishes and a lot of rice. At the beginning we got it the wrong way round, we would take a bit of rice and a dish each. The dishes would be too large to finish and it wasn’t very varied.

Then we found out how the Chinese do it. The dishes are for everyone. Each person round the table will serve himself a bowl of rice and dip into each dish as he pleases. He might just take a little out of a dish and eat it directly or put it on his rice. This means that you can taste every dish, but you only eat what you like and so don’t waste any food in your plate. Chop sticks are very well adapted to this way of eating as you can reach quite easily and catch as easily a lone pea as chopped onions or anything else.

Now another interesting feature about Chinese restaurants is the freshness of the food. The fish are swimming and the vegetable is freshly picked and waiting to be used. All the food is cooked to order. The speed at which this food is prepared is amazing. The dishes arrive when they are cooked. You shouldn’t expect to get all your dishes together. As they are to be shared, it doesn’t really matter. That way the cook will prepare one dish after another and the food will be perfect when it arrives.

A cultural difference is also that, during meals, it is considered impolite to talk. We were invited to a meal and our hosts begged us to forgive them for having talked to us during the meal.

Will I be able to find this Chinese food when I come back to Europe? I don’t know, but I certainly know what I will be looking for.


One Response

  1. The problem with tasting the real thing is that you may well be disappointed from now on 😀 Lucky me! (don’t be jelous 😉 )

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