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China, a Year of Dining


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#31 nickrey

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:17 PM

I made the mistake of reading this before breakfast. What can I cook after this?

 

Really looking forward to the rest. Thanks for sharing.


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#32 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:38 PM

 

Liuzhou - as I was reading this remarkable thread, and staring at each new photo much the way an enraptured child stares at the window of a toy store at Christmas, I was hoping you'd swing by and add even more wondrous and delightful information.



It's not too late.

 

 

Not sure what you are getting at. Most of my nearly 1.500 posts have been about food in China. And no doubt there will be more.



#33 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:53 PM

This was Xian

 

 

So I arrived in Xian... I really did not know much about the history of the place.. I knew of Xian from the terra cotta soldiers, i knew a young emperor that united China through wars, and eventually went crazy and built this labyrinth of terra cotta soldiers that was discovered in the 70's by some farmer digging a well.. I didn't realize it was the center of China for a couple thousand years, that it was the site of the first Mosque in China, the beginning of the Silk Road, (Asias Pipeline to Europe) that there were awesome Old Castle Walls preserved from that time period.. It's just a beautiful city, wonderful people.. There are something like 7 million people there.. It feels Old European and very Chinese at the same time.

I stayed at what i think is the perfect location... It was directly aside of the Old Mosque and the Muslim Section. Muslim section consists of 5 or 6 long narrow streets which are lined with vendors selling food, tshirts, handbags, jewelry, carvings, paintings, and lots of garbage. Sticks of lamb seem to be the real draw here but, there are hand pulled noodle shops, tons of nuts and dried fruit people, and lots of Middle Eastern Influence.. People selling Halava, dates, Flat Breads with Sesame, Sesame Sauces, Sesame Pastry, and Shwarma.. It really was like a large melting pot and you can see the influences from the Silk Road..Even the people looked incredible varied. Women in head scarves, men in white Muslim Caps.. There with Chinese Folk with very Middle Easter Facial Features...All sorts of shades of colors, all sorts of dress.. The people certainly told the story of years of different cultures mixing together, and it appears they were not just trading spices.. 

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One thing that amazed me was no matter how crowded the street was, there was still a bicycle or a motorbike, or the occasional car that would just make its way through the crowd.. the crowd would just move out of the way. there would be no road rage, no chicken, no screaming or middle fingers.. there is a car, get out of the way, the car will try to get out of your way.. it's not a big deal..that would not fly in The U.S... 

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This was my first thing I ate.. it was hard to pass up.. large chunks of lamb being cooked over coals, being doused in cumin, being painted with spicy red sauce... 

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Sorry the picture was not more clear.. As delicious as it tasted, it was rare in the middle.. i thought i was done for.. mostly because i still ate most of it despite to not being cooked.. it was nicely charred on the outside but, I still had to rely on the quality of the street meat..Since it was hallal most likely, i thought it was going to be ok.. 

This might be culturally insensitive but, my biggest complaint about the Muslim district.. No beer.. this food is such a perfect match.

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This woman is wearing a silver head dress.. she let me take a picture.. my camera skills were not the best that night.. 


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This reminded me of something from Morocco

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Grilled quail eggs, will go into it more later.

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Had to stop for another stick.. In my two days in Xian, i ate lots of sticks.. you would see these garbage cans with like 400 sticks sticking out of them..it looked really cool.. Another thing i enjoyed but did not photograph where these spiral things. it looked a vegetable that was put in one of these spinner cutters.. then grilled, it turns out they were rice noodles that were grilled and covered in cumin and chile sauce.. they were excellent too.. 

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I also stopped and had lamb dumplings.. it was served with a vinegar and pepper sauce.. it was a little disconcerting as the women told me to wait before eating the dumplings so she can empty the three of four used chile bowls into one big one for me to use.. Not to mention, chopsticks are these wooden guys that are in large jars tableside.. there is no running water in these stalls.. 

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I sat at that first table on the left.. you can see where the chopsticks are.. 

 

Edited by basquecook, 09 November 2013 - 03:00 PM.

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#34 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:54 PM

These things were so good.. some of the best bread i have had.. it came out warm, salty, covered in sesame.. actually, considering it was the first decent bread item i have had in a couple of weeks, it might have been the best piece of bread i have ever eaten.. 

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With a little lamb on a stick.. Oh baby

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Here is some more bread:

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Here is the fastest way to get through the crowd.

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I came upon this young girl.. there were a few of these places.. rice noodles, sesame sauce, black vinegar, and chile sauce.. 

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Just like in mexico.. They put the plastic bag over your bowl so they don't need to clean it.. Again, i wondered, what about the chopsticks. 

This plate of noodles.. oh my goodness it was good.. 

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I think it was like 75 cents or something.. 

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More Middle Eastern flair.

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The bread, the kid, all not very traditionally Chinese..The people are beautiful though.. 

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Fire is everywhere.. people welding, huge blow torches are boiling pots, hese guys were making noodles.. 

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This lady was making these little folded pancakes or dumplings on this flat top..

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Sesame flavored pigs feet.. 

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uh um..

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Tons of walnuts being roasted in salt.. there were lots of walnuts and peanuts and pomegranites were everywhere.. i ate a bunch of them on my trip.. In fact, the City Flower of Xian is the Pomegranite Flower.. Not spellchecking it.. 

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Quail eggs:

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Last meal of the trip:


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After seeing the scallions being washed with a dirty hose then being layed on a dirty wheel barrel i said, no fresh vegetables.. so, i decided to give the no hand signal for fresh cilantro.. pickled or cooked vegetables for me.. you can see the glob of chiles around 9 oclock on the bowl below.. 

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So good.. thick handmade noodles, tons of spice, pickled vegetables, little pieces of beef.. 

 


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#35 rotuts

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:03 PM

love the descriptions .  Of the Food, etc and its 'evaluation'  

 

thanks for putting so much effort into this.  

 

Gold Star your Way.


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#36 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:06 PM

 

This might be culturally insensitive but, my biggest complaint about the Muslim district.. No beer.

 

I lived in Xi'an from 1997-1999 and revisit often and I can assure you that they do have beer in the Muslim district - unless I have drunk it all.

 

 

They put the plastic bag over your bowl so they don't need to clean it..

 

No. They put the plastic bag over the bowl so that you don't have to eat from the dirty bowl. They do that all over China.

 

I'm fairly sure the picture you label as sesame pig's feet is actually sheep's feet. Mutton. They don't do pork in the Muslim district. The sign behind them says 'sheep',

 

I must say however, Xi'an (that apostrophe is essential in pinyin) food is probably the best in China. I miss the place. Going back in January.


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#37 Jaymes

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:10 PM

Basquecook, I'm curious as to what your business is.  Are these folks that you meet in China clients or prospects or colleagues? 

 

You must be able to speak Chinese if you're doing business with them.  Are you of Chinese extraction and spoke it previously, or did you have to learn Chinese before you began traveling there?


Edited by Jaymes, 09 November 2013 - 03:12 PM.

"And you, you're just a stinker."

#38 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:16 PM

 

I'm fairly sure the picture you label as sesame pig's feet is actually sheep's feet. Mutton. They don't do pork in the Muslim district. The sign behind them says 'sheep',

 

 

 

 

You found beer, i found pork,  we should team up and then we can have it all .

 

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#39 Shelby

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:21 PM

Interesting!!!!  I love seeing how they get the eggs on sticks.  And,  I'm glad to learn about the plastic covering over the bowls.  I would have never known that and probably done a huge blunder by dumping the food off the plastic into the bowl!  



#40 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:24 PM

 

 

I'm fairly sure the picture you label as sesame pig's feet is actually sheep's feet. Mutton. They don't do pork in the Muslim district. The sign behind them says 'sheep',

 

 

 

 

You found beer, i found pork,  we should team up and then we can have it all .

 

6275720152_2c37a40a4a_z.jpg

 

 

Haha.

 

That is definitely sheep / lamb.

 

The sign reads "Roast Lamb - Roast Lamb Feet / Leg."

 

羊 is sheep or lamb.


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#41 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:24 PM

I was saying there is no running water in the stalls I was in so, they put the plastic cover on the bowls so they don't have to clean them, or actually have no way of cleaning them. The chopsticks got no more than a sturdy wipe.
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#42 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:36 PM

 

I was saying there is no running water in the stalls I was in so, they put the plastic cover on the bowls so they don't have to clean them, or actually have no way of cleaning them. The chopsticks got no more than a sturdy wipe.

 

And I'm saying they do it all over China whether they have running water or not.



#43 Jaymes

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:37 PM

And,  I'm glad to learn about the plastic covering over the bowls.  I would have never known that and probably done a huge blunder by dumping the food off the plastic into the bowl!  

 

As Basquecook says, they do that all over Mexico, too.  At the taco trucks and food stands. Really an efficient way to serve everybody food on a clean "plate" when you don't have washing facilities.


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#44 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:37 PM

Yangzhou 

 

RT MART:

 

This is what the parking lot looks like. Not many cars

 

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Obligatory shot of Durian.. You could smell they had it a few aisles before they had it.  They have a dedicated person who is there to chop it up for you and wrap it.  

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Perserved duck and sausages.. Chinese Sausage tastes a lot like Portuguese Chorizo and a few kinds of Dried Italian Sausages to me.. Sorry Portugal, I am pretty sure the Chinese taught you and Italy how to make Sausages.  Are noodles and ravioli even debated still?  On the bottom left is stuff that looks just like prosciutto.. Salted and cured pork.   

 

 

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Dried Shrimp,seaweed, mussels, clams, various fish and seaweeds. you can see the dried fish hanging from the ceiling.. That giant squid at 12 o clock. 

 

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Fish:

 

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Shellfish, clams, oysters, snails, snakes, frogs, whatever you can think of, countless fish heads

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Crabs:

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#45 Shelby

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:38 PM

 

And,  I'm glad to learn about the plastic covering over the bowls.  I would have never known that and probably done a huge blunder by dumping the food off the plastic into the bowl!  

 

As Basquecook says, they do that all over Mexico, too.  At the taco trucks and food stands. Really an efficient way to serve everybody food on a clean "plate" when you don't have washing facilities.

 

Hell, I should start doing this at home.  Would save loads of time ;)


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#46 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:38 PM

yangzhou dinner one night:

 

 

I swear this tasted like it had parmesan cheese it in.   Gelatin noodles made with potato.  

 

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Tofu with some sort of dried clam with tofu.. This was one of the first dishes of the trip I couldn't eat.  it was really strong stuff.  

 

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Salted and perserved pork belly with eggplant in a sweet soy sauce with garlic and chile peppers. this dish was awesome

 

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yellow croaker.. super meaty and strong tasting fish.  

 

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Spicy fried chicken:  awesome

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#47 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:40 PM

Our work host and her husband have a large group of friends and they meet almost weekly.. The men sit at one large table, the women at the other.  It is a successful group.  Government officials, a manager of a huge Loews Hotel, the Chief of Police, a factory owner, a banker and so on.    They rent private rooms.. The men get freaking whacked on whiskey, chain smoke cigarettes, the women and children play cards and whatever.  
 
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It starts very civil.   We sit around and exchange glances, smiles, head nods, sip tea.  There are cold dishes on the table.  
 
Shrimp, fried, sea kelp, dates, greens and fava beans, coleslaw, some sort of cold mutton with chili sauce.  We are drinking this toasted wheat tea, which is really lovely. 
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Tiny crab claws in sauce:
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spicy tripe in chile sauce with mushrooms
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Mutton or something like that:
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 Finally, the last guest arrives.. He arrives with a carton of these yellow cigarettes that apparently cost close to 18 dollars US a pack.  He starts throwing them around.. Then he opens a bag and there are several bottles of whiskey.   All of the glasses are put on the lazy susan and he collects them.  He is now pouring them to the top.  I try to not drink whiskey and ask for a beer.   I am asked, why would I drink beer, whiskey  are for men.   While I don't understand much, the macho display needs know interpretation. 
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Then, I guess Jacques Briel's Carousel would be the most appropriate theme song for what happens for the next few hours..
 
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There is standing and giving cheers and taking shots and smoking and eating, and plate after plate are places on the spinning lazy Suzanne.. Suzanne was far from lazy last night. She was getting a work for sure..  That is the birthday girl on the left, she is drinking tea. 
 
pork belly with bamboo to cut the fat
 
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oysters like the Cantonese Scallops
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this chicken was really lovely.. 
 
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Some sort of beef innards with meatballs in a pickling pepper sauce.  really nice
 
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Tofu:
 
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crab, you can see some type of glutinous squares in the top left corner too
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Flounder and various plates of greens
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Noodles to end.. I flashed my tattoo and out came the noodles.. 
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Awesome night.. A fun loving close group of friends.. I feel fortunate to be invited into  their circle, if only for a night.
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#48 rotuts

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:43 PM

Still, I must say,  Big Yum Yum !

 

Two Gold Stars your Way  BC

 

hope you get to go back Sooooon !



#49 rotuts

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:47 PM

how do they deal with those small cracked crabs:  just 'suck' the innnardds out?

 

smart thinking Group:  get the Chief of Police involved.

 

a World Over Solution !


Edited by rotuts, 09 November 2013 - 03:48 PM.

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#50 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:56 PM

Yeh, the ladies husband I work with is, the chief of police..  He is a good guy to know.  We broke down a couple of trips ago and there was a cop car that came up scooped us up and brought us to the restaurant we were heading to.  He is a nice guy.  Everyone in town knows him.  You definitely feel pretty safe when his drivers take you home at the end of the night.    

 

The little crabs, you just suck the meat out.  I personally loves these guys.  I can admit that I have just crunched up the claws and eaten everything on occasion.  Just like eating sunflower seeds or something.  I will occasionally eat a whole shrimp head to.  After some rice wine, after a few beers, after some rice wine, I care less and less about the proper way to eat tiny little crab claws. 


Edited by basquecook, 09 November 2013 - 04:23 PM.

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#51 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:57 PM

 

how do they deal with those small cracked crabs: just 'suck' the innnardds out?

 

I'm pretty sure they are the fabled "hairy crabs". 

 

Eating instructions here.



#52 rotuts

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 04:04 PM

BC:  hope your understand how Lucky you are to have been able to attend the event you described.

 

worth the 2d hand smoke that cut off about 6 M off  your life, maybe then only 4 M.

 

and i dont think its just the food, but the "Good Times had by All "   puff  puff.


Edited by rotuts, 09 November 2013 - 04:05 PM.

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#53 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 04:09 PM

Yeh, the ladies husband I work with is, the chief of police.. He is a good guy to know. 

 

 

I bet you never saw anyone pay the bill.


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#54 rotuts

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 04:34 PM

even better.  truth be told, I bet it was High.

 

then again the CofP was there !

 

fantastic


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#55 dcarch

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 05:05 PM

Is Shark's fin soup still popular?

 

dcarch



#56 jsager01

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 06:17 PM

 

 

 

I bet you never saw anyone pay the bill.

 

 

Yes, but what is the problem that you are alluding to?  if you were at that dinner, you would know who is footing the bill, and if you dont then you should not have been there. Chinese etiquette when it comes to paying the bill at official or even families dinning out is quite different from the practice in the western countries,  although it is changing.

 

 

Is Shark's fin soup still popular?

 

dcarch

 

yes it is, although not in official government functions. I wish it would be less popular, because then it would be cheaper for those of us who do not see it any different from any other seafood, or foie gras, etc  Better control  to limit catches so that it is sustainable,yes, as in cod.  anyways, this is getting off topic. 

 

BC: i wish i could have the patience and perseverance or whatever to produce such a blog or thread of my trips to china which are usually more personal than business.

 

anyways, i look forward to reading more.


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It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.


#57 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 07:49 PM

 

Chinese etiquette when it comes to paying the bill at official or even families dinning out is quite different from the practice in the western countries, although it is changing.

 

Yes, I am well aware of that, thank you. 

 

I have a friend who runs a popular restaurant in a very popular tourist destination in China. You may even have been there. I won't name it for now. Every week the local police chief, his friends and various local government big shots turn up, eat the place out, get blind drunk and walk out without paying. There is nothing she can do. If she makes a fuss, she loses her licence to trade. End of story.

 

Another friend was opening a restaurant in another city and needed a fire certificate. The entire fire department turned up (about 20 people), ate dinner and walked out. What could friend do? Nothing. She needs the fire certificate.

 

Now, I'm not saying that is what happened in this case. Just that the stories you hear about corruption in China aren't exaggerated. If anything, they are understated. Corruption is everywhere. 

 

I work closely with the restaurant business in China and hear this kind of thing almost every day.


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#58 liuzhou

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:53 PM

I may have missed it, but you seem not to have had two of Xi'an's signature dishes.

 

Apart from the cumin meat on sticks (which is available in every Chinese city, but particularly in Xi'an) almost everywhere sells 羊肉泡馍; yáng ròu pào mò, a dish of sliced mutton (Yangrou) which has been boiled with scallion, ginger, pepper, star anise, cumin and cinnamon served in a mutton soup with scallion, sliced cabbage, rice wine, bean noodles, to which hand torn pieces of a local flat bread (Paomo) are added. It is usually served with raw garlic and a chilli dipping sauce.

 

Yangrou_Paomo.jpg

Yang Rou Pao Mo

 

The oher is 肉夹馍; ròu jiá mò, affectionately known as Chinese hamburger to many people. 

 

It consists of an approximately 12-15 cm diameter circular flatbread, similar to a pitta but denser, which is halved and stuffed with a mixture of pre-stir- fried meat, usually lamb or beef, and chilli peppers, all heavily seasoned with cumin powder. They are eaten in restaurants or taken away. I lived on these when studying in Xi'an. They are still the first thing I go for when I go back. THey are available all over town, but of course, I have my favourite place - a tiny no name restaurant just outside the ancient city walls.

 

Rou_jia_mo.jpg
 


Edited by liuzhou, 08 March 2014 - 02:35 AM.


#59 basquecook

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 11:46 PM

Unfortunately, the photos you had shown were not very appealing examples.  But, i know the dishes you are referring to.    


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#60 liuzhou

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 12:07 AM

They might or might not be appealing or might not be the height of photographic excellence, but they were taken in Xi'an. And so relevant. And in focus.

 

All your photographs are excellent, of course! 


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