Sunday, September 16, 2012

A foodie question from our dear friend Wendy

You talked about going home after work in China to fix a meal. Are you eating American food or are you learning to cook with Chinese flavor? Is it hard to shop for groceries?

Hi Wendy,

Good Question. I really enjoy all the Chinese flavors I've experienced at various eateries but I haven't been able to duplicate those flavors at home. Nevertheless, I have incorporated the foods of China in our meals. I'm more adventurous in eateries than in my own kitchen since I'm not sure the best way to prepare most of the sea creatures and odd looking vegetables. I guess our dinner is where East meets West most of the time. BTW sea cucumbers are an expensive delicacy around this area.

You would not believe how many ways you can cook with rice. And, I'm experimenting with noodles. We buy a couple of roasted sweet potatoes from a vendor on our walk home from school. Folks here love to buy popcorn and boiled corn-on-the-cob from street vendors. There are a lot of fruit vendors, as well; and the fruit in this region is sooooo flavorful and fresh. They eat all kinds of rice porridge for breakfast with seriously funky toppings.
This past weekend I discovered what the Chinese enthusiastically call SNACKS. Anything they can fry on a stick is a snack: beetles, fried bananas w/tomato paste, fried ice cream, octopus, all manner of chicken and fish, scorpions, unknowns, etc.  I chose to merely look at the snacks this first time; my bowels are doing pretty good and I don't want to test them too far with the vendor fare. But it sure was fun walking through the crowded streets, smelling a plethora of odors and getting a glimpse of what it might have looked and smelled like in the far past in the Far East.
Grocery shopping is definitely a challenge. No matter how sure you thin you are, what's really inside the package can surprise you. I'd like to experiment with some of the things I see but I can't make heads or tails how to cook it. So, sometimes I just make up a way and wonder if what I'm eating is Chinese or Minese. But, shopping is a little frustrating, mostly because it takes so long because: 1) it takes so long to decipher labels and contents, 2) walking around trying to find what I found the last time, 3) moving through unbelievably crowded stores every time of the day or evening, 4) deciding which funky veggie or fruit I should take a chance on this week, and 5) I have to WALK to and from any where I decide to shop plus carry whatever I buy home. Oh, and, you carry your 15 eggs in a plastic mesh bag...not a carton; hence I lost 2 eggs coming home last time.  One lady keeps the package of anything that ends up tasting good so she can use it as a reference to get it again. Shopping by picture isn't as easy as it sounds.
John's favorite section of the store is the pastry and bakery area. They really make some lovely, tasty creations. The end of September is a national holiday in China and also something to do with the moon; so, there are all kinds and sizes of moon cakes...some of which have a cooked egg yolk in the center.

Hope that answers your questions a little bit.

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