Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Discourse on Food

I am currently in the midst of a "I am so over Chinese food" phase. Even before coming here, I was never a huge fan of Chinese food, and while it is good, it's just not my favorite. Except crab rangoon, which I absolutely love, although I've never seen it here, and I'm not even sure it's even Chinese food. (A quick wikipedia search tells me that it is not; apparently, crab rangoon was invented in San Francisco in 1952.) Which brings up another point regarding American Chinese food: while I knew even before I came to China that fortune cookies were entirely an American invention, there is still a little piece of my soul that dies whenever I finish a meal here and don't get a completely generic yet uplifting prediction of my future. (The Sunday before I left for China, my family went for Chinese, and my fortune was: "You will soon go on a great journey.")

Compounding the above disillusionment is the discovery that Chinese Hot Pot (one of my favorite dishes) is actually not Chinese; rather, it's Mongolian, and was imported - along with the Mongols- when they took over the country for awhile a couple centuries ago. (Sorry, don't feel like looking up the specifics).

China is known for having specific foods coming from it's different regions, I guess in a somewhat similar way to how the US draws on lots of different countries' dishes (long ago, the provinces were separate countries, anyway). Hunan and Szechuan food is known for its spiciness, which I discovered my first week here. Which is spicier is debatable - some say Szechuan, some say Hunan. Shaanxi province, which is where Xi'an is located, is known for its "paomo", which is a noodle/meat/soup dish, with little bread pieces scattered in it, too. I'm not sure if there's a specific flavor they're known for, but based off my limited experience, it would likely be spicy, too. My tolerance for spicy foods has gone up exponentially since coming here, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm going to try and do a post or so each week on food- just a picture and description of some of my favorite dishes, so you all can get a feel for what 'normal' Chinese food is like. We can't all go out and eat hot pot or Beijing Roast Duck (sooo expensive) every night! :)

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