China is a very interesting place. The culture is rich and the history goes deep. The food though, that is a totally different ball game. When you think of Chinese food, you probably think of the normal orange chicken and rice, maybe some beef and broccoli from Panda Express, right? Well, Americanized Chinese food is something that the Chinese folks would laugh at. It doesn’t even come close! It’s quite indescribable actually, but I will do my best (and hopefully most of the pictures will give you a better idea).
Oil. Greese. Fish (all of it). Rice. Whole chickens (yes, the feet too). Duck. Dove. Turtle. These are a few of their favorite things. The Chinese rarely waste anything, which is a quality I can admire, except when it comes to my food. When I first arrived here, I said to myself, “I am not going to be a baby, I am going to try different things.” Not my best idea, actually. So far I have gotten sick twice, and one time I had to spend a few hours in a hospital with three IVs in. It wasn’t fun, but it helped me learn my lesson. It’s just not in me to have a strong stomach and it’s best to just stick to the white rice and a tuna can.
Luckily there are some international grocery stores that provide normal things to eat, like pasta, tuna, imported fruits and veggies, OATMEAL, peanut butter, etc. I capitalize oatmeal because it is a lifesaver when we are on the road and have to succumb to eating Chinese food. That is when things get really fun too; on the road. Travelling for a week at a time is not an easy task when you can’t eat much at dinner. My teammates make fun of me because I take an extra bag worth of dried fruit, oatmeal, almond butter, tuna cans, the works.
Not all Chinese food is bad. I actually really like dumplings (with beef or veggies, not pork) and the fried rice is really good too. There are a lot of tasty things to eat here; they just don’t sit well in a stomach that isn’t accustomed to it. What’s really fun is when we get to stay in a five star hotel that has a Western buffet. That might be the best feeling; walking into lunch or dinner readily prepared for the worst, and then being pleasantly surprised at the options. It’s actually really embarrassing how emotional I get over a good buffet when we are on the road. It’s the little things.
The most recent epidemic with food here is that there has been a bird-flu breakout in our area of China, so I can no longer enjoy a chicken breast. It’s strictly tuna and an occasional piece of steak (if I’m lucky). I believe that when I get home I will never want to look at another can of tuna or eat oatmeal ever again.