Yeah I know, I said I was burned out on a travel and I missed my boyfriend and all that. I wasn’t lying, but there’s another truth. I’ve been dreaming about Chinese food pretty much since I left China six months ago.
What can I say? I love food. Especially cheap food, and China is pretty much top of the pyramid for an enormous variety of cheap and delicious dishes. The stuff you’ve had at home- the stuff that comes in the little white boxes- is great an all, but it doesn’t begin to compare to the authentic Chinese cuisine.
In China meals are a communal sport. Big dishes in the middle of the table with a copious side of white rice. There are weird smells, and unidentifiable dishes, grease and food splashing everywhere. There’s the drama and heartbreak of eating with chopsticks (something I’ve just about got a grip on). In the end though, it’s all about the tasty tasty food.
Here are some of my favorites:
Bao Zi– a typical breakfast here in Xi’an, these juicy buns are filled with savory meat and dipped in a spicy vinegar sauce. They really put my chopstick skills to the test.
Gan Bian Dou Jiao– Spicy greenbeans, usually with some garlic and Sichuan peppercorns (accidentally bite one and feel your entire mouth go numb). My parents will be shocked because I don’t even LIKE green beans at home, but I can’t get enough of these.
Gong Bao Ji Ding– This one is fairly recognizable in the states as Kung Pao Chicken. The spicy crunchiness gets me every time.
Yu Xiang Rou Si– Translation: fish flavored pork. It doesn’t actually taste fishy (which is good because I pretty much loathe fish).
Bing (Stuffed Flatbread)– Not sure the specific name for this street snack, but to Mike’s amusement I’ve been calling it Pizza Bread. It’s stuffed with a spicy paste and served hot, with more spicy sauce brushed on top.
Liang Ban Huang Gua- A simple dish, it’s really just cold cut up cucumbers in a slightly spicy sauce. Very refreshing.
Hot Pot– A specialty of Chengdu but available most everywhere, this meal is kind of like fondue if you replace cheese with spicy boiling hot oil and bread with just about anything imaginable: lamb, veggies, eggs,
Kou Rou– The best thing ever in my life basically. Kou Rou is chinese BBQ, served in kebab form by street vendors with a side of naan bread. Between two of us we’ll order about 30 sticks, usually lamb or chicken, and go to town.
The kicker? A meal for two at one of the local restaurants off campus runs us less than $5. If we eat on campus we pay maybe $3. So much yummy food for so cheap… it’s all downhill from here.