Friday, July 24, 2009

Meals in China

ALL of our meals in China were wonderful, and not solely because the food was so good. As I've already said, our guides were wonderful, and they made our meals so enjoyable. They took care of everything. We simply sat down and waited for our food to come. The girls would sit at one round table and the grownups at another. Bing and our local guide would do all of the ordering and every meal had pork, chicken, beef, tofu and white rice. Sometimes there were dumplings and sometimes there were noodles. Bing did ask if anyone in the group liked spicy food, and Fred told her he did. As the trip progressed, the food got progressively spicier. And every now and then some French fries magically appeared at the kids tables. Bing was watching out for the kids as well.
Poor Bing even ended up helping us with a few meals when we were supposed to be "on our own." She helped us to order at a food court during free time, and when we ordered pizza at the hotel, she helped us secure a space where we could all eat it together.

This restaurant was outside the Teng Wang Pavilion in Nanchang. We were escorted to a private room, and we all sat at one large round table. At every meal there was a lazy susan in the middle of the table, and the food was served family style. Serving spoons and napkins were not readily available at every meal. We simply used our chopsticks to grab what we wanted off the dishes. Halfway through the trip we joked that if no one was sick by now, we weren't going to get sick because of all the germs exchanged during meals.

This was the meal served to us at the orphanage. We were assuming we would be hosting a lunch for the staff at a local restaurant, but instead they prepared this meal for us. There was corn on the cob (eaten with chopsticks), beans, and a delicious eggplant stuffed with pork. I don't usually care for eggplant, but this was very good. They also served an egg and tomato dish that we had at several restaurants as well. It was basically scrambled eggs with tomatoes, but it was yummy. My biggest worry with the orphanage meal was the raw fruit we were given. We didn't want to offend the orphanage personnel by refusing the fruit, so Rachel and I discreetly used a napkin under the table to wipe it off as best we could. We were worried about bacteria from the water used to wash the fruit. Fortunately we had no ill effects from it. We also were served watermelon, but didn't worry about that since it had a rind and we didn't have to worry about it having been washed.

This was a meal in Xi'an. Xi'an is famous for its dumplings, or jiaozi. And there wasn't a dumpling served that we didn't like. The bronze pot was soup, and they lit a fire under the pot to cook/heat the soup right at the table.
This was inside The Noodle King. It's a chain restaurant whose specialty is, surprise surprise, noodles. Bing said it's like a fast food restaurant, except they do serve you at the table. The food was good, but the rest rooms were not. And that's all I have to say about that.
These were called glass noodles. I believe they were a kind of rice noodle. The kids really liked them. Believe it or not, we were all pretty good at serving/eating noodles with chopsticks.
This was at the restaurant in Beijing where we went for Peking duck. During this early part of the trip, Rachel was not being very adventurous with what she ate. She was filling up on rice for quite a few meals. She did get braver when she realized they weren't going to serve us some of the more, shall we say, interesting foods we had seen on TV. She even tried some of the spicier foods we had later in the trip.

She did not, however, try the Peking duck. The duck wasn't bad. They wheeled it out and sliced it up at our table. You had to pick around the bones, though.

This was a cucumber dish that was very tasty.

We did break down and have McDonald's for a meal or two, but only because Bing wasn't available and we didn't seem capable on our own of deciding where and what to eat.
Coke/Pepsi and Sprite were available at every meal, as well as bottled water and beer. Many times, though the soda and water was served at room temperature. The Chinese don't like to drink cold things. They think it's healthier to drink warm/hot drinks.
All of our breakfasts were western-style buffets at whatever hotel we were at. Interestingly, there was banana bread, no nuts, at every single buffet. There was also an omelet station at each buffet. Sometimes we had trouble communicating that we wanted the eggs well done, though. If we didn't order them well done, they tended to be a bit undercooked.
After worrying about what the food would be like in China, and after some initial hesitation, Rachel really enjoyed the food there. She's eager to try to Kung Pao chicken here so she can compare it to what we had there. Fred and I aren't quite ready to have Chinese food again, though! Even though we didn't really get sick from anything in particular, I think everyone in our group had some sort of belly issue along the way.

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