Who Cares About Culture?! Give Me Food!

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Hello again from Beijing, China! I realize I haven’t talked about food much yet, so I thought I’d share some with you. A typical breakfast I’ve had here looks like this:

This pancake is some sort of hash brown with a fried egg in the middle. Very oily.

A mild spice cake-like thing that unfortunately tends to have hard seeds in them that look like olive pits (?).

While I don’t mind the mass-produced cafeteria food during lunch and dinner so much, I just couldn’t stomach this for breakfast every day, nor the refined-flour greasy buns and pancakes that make up the cafeteria breakfasts. My heart was racing from all the refined carbs. After a week and a half of this food, I’ve switched to this for breakfast:

Yes, that would be banana and peanut butter! If I can’t have my oatmeal, at least I’ll have some of the ingredients. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Skippy peanut butter here in Beijing.

Skippy PB and chocolate swirled together! Why don’t they have this in the U.S.?! I never eat Skippy in the U.S., but still.

Lame? Maybe, but at least I enjoy my breakfasts again πŸ™‚ I DO miss Saratoga Peanut Butter Company PB. I know what I’ll be eating first when I get home!

Moooving on … the weekend before last, I arranged for my group to experience a Beijing food tour! The tour traveled through the Beijing hutongs (“Old Beijing” ). Hutongs are narrow alleyways bounded by traditional Chinese courtyards, many of which are several centuries old. For those of you who have checked out the blog I set up for my University, you will have seen some of these pictures already. That’s ok – nothing wrong with ogling food twice!

(I’m going to keep the text short because I’ve not had nearly as much time to blog here in China as I thought I would!)

Famous chestnut roaster in Beijing:

Long line!

Have you ever tried a roasted chestnut? I hadn’t before this tour, but I loved it! Meaty and smoky and delicious πŸ™‚

We began our tour at a local Hakka restaurant, where our first dish featured wild vegetables picked fresh from the hills around Beijing:

Spicy, salty perch:

Flavorful green beans in a light sauce:

Sauteed mushrooms. I had never seen this kind of mushroom before.

Crackly roasted corn. This dish was definitely my favorite dish.

Sticky rice:

Sauteed shrimp with tea leaves:

I don’t remember exactly what was in this dish, but I do remember that the green circles in the middle were bitter melon. It tasted exactly how it sounds.

Some images from the day:

A beautiful lake by the hutong area:

Hutong images:

A tea shop menu written in chalk on a brick wall:

A look into a hutong courtyard. The number of boxes on the upper left indicates how many families live in this tiny area (!):

Transportation:

See those cardboard pieces covering the wheels?Β  Those are there to prevent little dogs from peeing on the tires πŸ˜›

The number of posts above a door indicates a family’s status.Β  A family with a”four post” door is ranked higher than a family with a “two post” door.Β  Girls could marry into higher status families, but boys could only marry within their rank or lower.

As the awesome Aletheia reminded me, this innocuous looking egg is what’s known as a “Thousand Year” egg. It has been soaked in brine until the brine penetrates the egg and preserves it.

Here I am cracking the egg …

… and my face when I see what’s inside.

The egg is BLACK!Β  When you break the egg open, it always has layers of colors and textures.Β  I hope to try this type of egg in a dish before I leave China.Β  Gotta stretch my food boundaries! πŸ™‚

This sweet man owns a Muslim bakery:

Some of his delicious vegetarian treats:

I even got to take a picture with him!

This fruit tastes like a cross between a raspberry and a strawberry – hen hao chi! (Very delicious!)Β  I don’t recall the name of it off the top of my head, but I’ll find out and edit the name into the post.

A Beijinger taking an afternoon siesta:

Our last stop was in a Taiwanese tea shop.Β  We didn’t actually drink any tea (the weather was very hot), but we did try some Taiwanese snacks.

This omelet was supposed to have oysters in it, but still tasted great with shrimp instead.Β  I don’t even know what the sauce was – a Taiwanese version of ketchup, maybe?Β  In any case, it was fabulous.

One of my favorite treats of the day was a lightly-sweetened yogurt/soft cheese that’s very popular in this section of Beijing.Β  The yogurt was topped with black beans or oatmeal.Β  Who says I can’t get calcium in Beijing??

I miss reading all your blogs!Β  I can’t wait to catch up when I get back.Β  Have a great rest of your week, and I’ll talk to you all again soon!

Jessie πŸ˜€

19 Comments

  1. Helllloooooo!! So good to hear from you!! πŸ™‚ Very cool to see what you’ve been eating while in Beijing! I think I’d feel the same way about the breakfasts… that would not sound appealing to eat day after day. But everything else looks really good. Especially the roasted corn!!

    Continue to enjoy your time in China!! πŸ™‚

  2. I have to say that I’ve never really cared for Chinese food becuase it has always been too oily for me! I am surprised that it is the same in China because I thought the authentic stuff would be healthier.

    It still looks great though! I hope you are enjoying your fantastic trip!

  3. JESSIE! I think you’re such a soldier for lasting on those breakfasts for as long as you did, before taking it to the nanners+pb.

    As for the food, there’s too much to write about. Almost every picture of yours I found something to say…but I’ll be selective:

    -YES! I LOVE ROASTED CHESTNUTS!! I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE!! IT’S LIKE CROSS BETWEEN A SWEET WALNUT AND A YAM. Or something. In any case, it’s greeeeeat!

    -Bitter melon is incredible. So, so incredible.

    -The oyster omelet (which didn’t have oysters) = my parent’s FAVOURITE. They’re crazy about it. Crazy Taiwanese people… πŸ˜‰

    -I think the hairy red fruit you have pictured is a lychee… RIGHT? Or maybe not. Sure looks like it though!

    Hope you get to try a dish with the thousand year old egg soon. Preferably the one I keep talking about — incidentally the only one I know — with scrambled tofu, sesame oil, ground pork and chives. Trust me–delicious. πŸ˜€

    Until next time…stay clear of the peeing-on-car-tires dogs!

    Lots of love and hugs (and virtual Saratoga PB),
    Aletheia <3

      1. hehe Aletheia … You are tooo funny πŸ˜‰

  4. Aaack! I just wrote a comment and accidentally erased it. Here goes attempt number 2. I LOVE roasted chestnuts! They were one of my fave snacks when we we’re visiting Vietnam. So addicting eh? Good thing they’re not too expensive either. And I love Taiwanese food. That oyster dish is sooo yummy. But I have to admit, without the sauce it wouldn’t be good at all. The sauce makes the dish. I see you’re still on the search for durian…haha. For sure they’ll have them in HK though. And don’t worry too much about the 1000 yr old egg. If you have dim sum in HK they will have it in a really famous congee dish. Just ask your aunt to order the congee with 1000 yr old egg and ground pork. I’m sure she’ll know what you’re talking about if you tell her that. Other than breakfast, looks like you’re having pretty good eats. Enjoy the rest of your time there! εƒηš„ι–‹εΏƒδΈ€ι»žδΊ†! “Have fun eating.” (Hope that’s right.)

  5. εƒεΎ—ι–‹εΏƒδΈ€ι»žδΊ†. I think that’s the correct way. Man I’ve forgotten a lot.

    1. Hey, that’s really good! I only wish my Mandarin was that good πŸ™‚ Zai jian, wo de hao peng you!

  6. What an amazing adventure! I have never heard of hen hao chi and will be looking to try it forever. How funny that you clearly did not like bitter melon and Aletheia clearly loves it. That’s how it seems to be with Durian, too. Love – or, not. I am going to follow this adventure. I am not sure I will ever get to Beijing… i would love to go… there are so many other places on my list. If I live long enough…
    πŸ™‚
    Valerei

  7. Eating is my favourite part of any vacation. I LOVE food. China is probably the only place (for a white chick like myself) to get real Chinese food. I know the stuff at Chinese restaurants here is westernized and the real menus are only written in Chinese.

    I’d really like to know why it’s necessary to block your tires from dog pee. Do they think it’s going to damage the tires or something?

    Oh, and they oily hashbrown & egg brekkie actually looks awesome! YUM! (although maybe not as awesome as peanut butter swirled with chocolate, but pretty close!)

  8. Great pics. I did the Hutong thing to while I was in China. We even had a lesson on making little dumpling things. I was wary of some of the food while I was there, but when I got back to Vegas I spent a lot of time in Chinatown. It was the only place to get real Chinese food.

  9. Amazing food from one of the culinary capitals of the world. I can really do with an afternoon siesta right about now in my office.

    Be well

  10. I loved reading this!! It’s so fun to see pictures of your adventures in eating…and exploring. Sounds like you’re having an amazing trip!

    And does dog pee ruin tires?? hahaha

  11. Aww Jessie, glad to hear you are enjoying some food adventures in China! (Or at least some of them…sorry the breakfasts were kind of icky, but at least you found some PB to rely on).

    That black egg is very intimidating, I’m not going to lie. You are a very adventurous eater for wanting to give it a shot. I really like the looks of that fruit that you had, though. They sound really interesting and yummy.

    xoxo

  12. Hey Jessie!

    I decided to take a look at your Hutong food tour post, and it’s awesome! You’re definitely a fantastic blogger. Just wanted to let you know that the strawberry/raspberry fruit was called yang2 mei2. I actually saw it as a juice in a grocery store when I was in Shanghai, and its English name is Chinese bayberry. Here’s more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrica_rubra.

    Anyways, I hope you had fun in HK and are enjoying your time back at home!

    Best,

    Lanting

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