33 Days and Lesson #3

By the end of the week, it will be less than a month until my trip to China.  My previous China posts, here and here, have been about key facts about China and what to do and not do while visiting there. 

Today’s lesson is about food and drink, which is what has worried me the most.  According to my research, the food is always freshly cooked for each meal; they almost never eat “ready meals”.  They eat many vegetables and eat in small quantities instead of eating big meals.  But the do use a large amount of MSG (monosodium glutamate, or taste powder) in their cooking as well as sugar.

There are many different types of regional cuisines in China: Canton, Shandong, Sichuan, Yangzhou, Hunan, Fujian, Anhui, Zhejiang, Beijing, Shanghai and several others.  Here is a brief description of a few of them:

  • Cantonese - Widely used ingredients include: river food, seafood, birds, rats, snakes and insects. Some well-known dishes are “three kinds of snake stewed”, cat meat, snake soup, casserole mountain turtle and crispy skin suckling pig.  - I don’t think this will be one of my favorite types of food.
  • Shandong - This type of good focuses mainly on seafood.  Typical dishes include stewed sea cucumber with scallion, stewed snakehead eggs, sea slugs with crab ovum, Dezhou grilled chicken and walnut kernel in cream soup. – Did I see “grilled chicken” here??? Yea!!
  • Sichuan – Known for its hot, peppery flavor. Famous dishes include shredded pork with fish flavor, stewed beancurd with minced pork in pepper sauce and dry-roast rock carp. – I really don’t like spicy foods, so I think I should stay away from this one.
  • Huaiyang – focuses on freshness and tenderness and bright colors.  Famous dishes include beggar’s chicken, fried mandarin fish with sweet and sour sauce, sliced chicken with egg white, salted duck, steamed crab meat, and minced pork balls cooked in a casserole. I’m not really sure about this type either.

Maybe I should stick with just vegetable dishes.  Main ingredients include green leaf vegetables, fruit, edible mushrooms and beancurd products.  I can handle this.

Now for the drink portion.   

The Chinese drink large quantities of tea (I love tea), but they add no milk or sugar (I need to pack some pink packets to carry with me I see).  Different types are green, black, perfumed, white and Wulong tea.  They also drink yellow rice wine, maotai (like vodka), Chinese beers and other wines.  Soft drinks such as mineral water and Coca Cola are available everywhere. – Ahhhh, I will survive now.

Something that sounds exciting to me is the reemergence of Teahouses there.  They are all about tranquillity; a quite atmosphere.  Music played there is done on a twenty-one or twenty-five-stringed plucked instrument called a zheng.

There you have it.  Obviously I will be surviving on Coke, tea and chocolate for my nine day trip.  Wonder how many Chinese people I will offend while there?

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