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Chinese Noodle Joints


liuzhou
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NoodleNoodle.jpg.5dd6ffb19f91e880b211760

 

Everywhere around me are noodle places. When I go down town, I see even more. I find them interesting.

 

I am in the south of China where the preference is for rice noodles. In the north, wheat is more common. But that's not the only choice you have to make.

 

Here are a few noodle joints, all within ten minutes walk of my house. There are more (though some are still closed for the New Year holiday).

 

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This one specialises in not specialising. They are all rice noodles though.

 

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This one give more choice. You can have either rice noodles (粉 fěn) or wheat noodles (面 miàn), but again in a variety of styles

 

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Beef Noodles

 

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Lamb or Mutton Noodles

 

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Guilin Rice Noodles

 

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Mushroom Noodles

 

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Donkey Noodles

 

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Horse Noodles

 

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Snail Noodles

 

Snail noodles is THE local dish. There are literally hundreds of shops selling this dish. More on this topic here.

 

More to come

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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I'll have a large order of mushroom noodles, to go please!  Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more Chinese noodling info, "from the horse's mouth"  (sorry, couldn't resist the bad pun).  PS I wonder how a computer translation would mishandle puns?  O.o

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Is there a significant difference between horse and donkey noodles, taste and texture wise?  Does the second balk at being chewed or stubbornly resist tenderness?

 

I would love to know more about (and see pictures of) snail noodles. I love escargot ... are those buttery, garlicky and reminiscent of those? Or are these tinier snails, more akin to periwinkle size, and swimming in soy sauce?

 

I am eagerly awaiting more noodle facts and pics from the heart and soul of your fascinating area, luizhou.

 

And, by the way, did Pig Face make a New Year's debut yet?

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On 20/02/2016 at 1:53 AM, Deryn said:

Is there a significant difference between horse and donkey noodles, taste and texture wise?  Does the second balk at being chewed or stubbornly resist tenderness?

 

I would love to know more about (and see pictures of) snail noodles. I love escargot ... are those buttery, garlicky and reminiscent of those? Or are these tinier snails, more akin to periwinkle size, and swimming in soy sauce?

 

I am eagerly awaiting more noodle facts and pics from the heart and soul of your fascinating area, luizhou.

 

And, by the way, did Pig Face make a New Year's debut yet?

 

Horse and donkey are similar in taste, but the donkey meat is more tender - melts in the mouth. It is, by a long shot,  my favourite.

 

The snail noodles dish, 螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn is rice noodles, chilli, dried tofu skin and pickled bamboo in a stock made by boiling snails and pig bones, stewed for ten hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. The customer then adds coriander leaf, Chinese chives, more chilli etc to their particular taste.

There are not usually any actual snails served in the dish. The locals can't get enough of it, although many outsiders are put off by the strong scent of the bamboo. There is even a Facebook group page celebrating the dish.

 

Here is one version from my nearest shop.

 

luosifen1.JPG.457665cbaf5f6627df5a960563

 

And another

 

luosifen2.jpg.c3a19f272d146d69c76d815c0b

 

It is being unusually warm here right now, so Cameron Pig Face hasn't made her debut yet.

 

On 20/02/2016 at 3:15 AM, Lisa Shock said:

Do you have a place near you that makes the sliced/shaved noodles?

 

There was one very near that did 刀削 面 (dāo xuē miàn) or knife cut noodles, but the street in question has recently been pulled down for 'development'. They may have popped up elsewhere, but if so, I have yet to find them. There is, however, another shop slightly further away. Maybe 30 minutes walk. Worth it though.

Edited by liuzhou
some words went missing (log)
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12 hours ago, Deryn said:

What, may I ask, is so obnoxious about the scent of pickled bamboo? Are there unusual ingredients used in the pickling process?

 

I don't know the answer to that one. It doesn't smell in the least obnoxious to me. But I've heard it said, often. In fact the subject came up at the banquet I had the other night and none of us could understand it. The pickling process is pretty standard.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Hello @liuzhou,  I have a question. Is it hard to accommodate vegetarians or pescatarians in your part of China?  From your posts, it seems meat-centric. But perhaps I am misinterpreting. I'm seriously considering adding a side trip to your part of China when I visit Vietnam later this year 

But I do strongly prefer vegetarian food, when available 

Just curious to know if this will present a problem in my trip planning. Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge. 

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8 hours ago, Deryn said:

love escargot ... are those buttery, garlicky and reminiscent of those? Or are these tinier snails, more akin to periwinkle size, and swimming in soy sauce?

 

Sorry, I forgot to answer this part of your question. The snails used are, I'd say, medium in size. They are river snails,, or rice paddy snails.Not buttery or garlicky, but equally delicious in another way. They are also often served in a chilli sauce.

 

Here are some being prepared in an old photo of a less than hygienic restaurant (long gone).

 

snails.jpg.e48f518c96d39572fff099a0e8b03

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2 hours ago, kbjesq said:

Hello @liuzhou,  I have a question. Is it hard to accommodate vegetarians or pescatarians in your part of China?  From your posts, it seems meat-centric. But perhaps I am misinterpreting. I'm seriously considering adding a side trip to your part of China when I visit Vietnam later this year 

But I do strongly prefer vegetarian food, when available 

Just curious to know if this will present a problem in my trip planning. Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge. 

 

I have written extensively on vegetarianism and veganism in this topic. Or there is a slightly revised version on my blog here.

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12 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

Do you have a place near you that makes the sliced/shaved noodles?

 

Here is the one about half an hour away. It specialises in hand-pulled noodles and knife cut noodles. I preferred the other place, only because it had a more open kitchen and you got the theatre of watching them pulling the dough into strands and see them cut the knife cut noodles into the boiling water.

 

IMG_7105.jpg.ed28f5aa9c2d6373877761afc5a

 

These noodles and techniques are from the north and west of China, whereas I am in the south, so there aren't so many of these places, but this one is popular.

Edited by liuzhou
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Some more

 

IMG_7095.jpg.278b5394422f8ba8cee8c4baa77

This one is quite new and I've never been, but the picture shows the set-up in nearly all these noodle joints. There is a desk just inside the door on the left. Here you order and pay. You are then given a ticket which you present to the kitchen at the back. With a bit of luck, you will be given your noodles of choice, which you garnish to your satisfaction, then find a seat.The picture was taken in the mid-morning, after breakfast but before lunch. Hence the emptiness.

 

IMG_7103.jpg.78aa6588a170377abdbe112a21f

This is a very popular Guangzhou (Canton) style noodle emporium. Always busy. Not my favourite style of Chinese eating though.

 

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This one has 老友分, or Old Friend's Noodles, a specialty of Nanning down the road. As with many Chinese dishes there is a story behind the name. In fact, there is usually a choice of different stories. But I’ve heard this story pretty consistently. It seems that some time ago there was a man who became sick and lost his appetite. His friends and doctors urged him to eat to keep up his strength to aid his recovery, but to no avail. Finally, one of his oldest friends, a chef, prepared him a bowl of noodles. As soon as he smelled the dish, he perked up, finished the lot and went on to make a full recovery. Or so they say.

 

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This is one of the oldest noodle joints in town. It does many different preparations.

 

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This is the most popular snail noodle place in the city centre. I took this picture at noon today. What you are seeing is the overspill from the restaurant. They only sell one dish.

 

IMG_7110.jpg.c88f1e5779981404754d5977715

Some places don't even have a restaurant as such. Real street food. I've eaten here - often. Delicious snail noodles.

 

Finally, for now, a couple of oddities.

 

IMG_4029.jpg.634072699c6082a97ba099c287d

This is a Japanese-style ramen shop. The owner is Chinese but lived in Japan for some time. Very friendly man. He usually gives me free beer when I visit. Again a popular place.

 

and

 

56c94e157a410_VietnamRollNoodles.jpg.f75

Tucked away in a side alley, making it difficult to photograph, is a Vietnam Rolled Noodle place. Also very good.
 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

At noon today, I came across this sign with an arrow pointing down a lane. It is interesting in that it is for a restaurant selling something I hadn't seen before.

 

IMG_7521.thumb.jpg.bafd0b9652bf3f4d7d271

 

From top to bottom it reads

 

猪脚粉  Pig's Foot Rice Noodles
牛腩粉  Beef Tenderloin Noodles
鸭肉粉  Duck Meat Noodles
云吞     Wontons
饺子     Jiaozi (Dumplings)

 

I don't recall seeing duck noodles before. I didn't investigate further as I'd just finished lunch - donkey noodles again! But I'll be trying out the duck soon.

 

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@liuzhou

 

What is not to love about duck noodles?  I will be anxiously awaiting your report.  I am picturing in my mind slices of rare duck breast but it is my understanding that rare meat is not the Chinese way. 

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1 minute ago, Anna N said:

@liuzhou

 

What is not to love about duck noodles?  I will be anxiously awaiting your report.  I am picturing in my mind slices of rare duck breast but it is my understanding that rare meat is not the Chinese way. 

 

Indeed. I find it a bit odd. Every supermarket and farmers' market has buckets of congealed pig or chicken blood for use in hot pots and soups, but show them a bit of rare meat and they recoil in horror. Although I have been served pink chicken and baffled the wait staff by rejecting it.

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  • 3 years later...

This is the 老友分 (lǎo yǒu fēn) or "Old Friend Noodles" dish mentioned in this post (3rd from top).

 

laoyoufen.thumb.jpg.18e1fd2d46347e2ee7a150070e5e5c92.jpg

 

It's rice noodles with tomato, pickled bamboo shoots,  chili,  fermented black  beans,  garlic, scallion, and of course pork.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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On 2/20/2016 at 9:45 PM, liuzhou said:

 

I don't know the answer to that one. It doesn't smell in the least obnoxious to me. But I've heard it said, often. In fact the subject came up at the banquet I had the other night and none of us could understand it. The pickling process is pretty standard.

 

 

You will know better than I - but is there a difference between preserved vs pickled bamboo?

 

I local (and excellent!) Vietnamese place has one bowl which I simply cannot bring myself to try as the aroma is too off putting - it is a duck and preserved bamboo soup.  I can smell it from tables away.

 

No thank you.

 

Love noodle soups, this is great stuff!

 

 

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26 minutes ago, TicTac said:

 

You will know better than I - but is there a difference between preserved vs pickled bamboo?

 

I local (and excellent!) Vietnamese place has one bowl which I simply cannot bring myself to try as the aroma is too off putting - it is a duck and preserved bamboo soup.  I can smell it from tables away.

 

No thank you.

 

Love noodle soups, this is great stuff!

 

 

 

To know for sure, I'd really have to see the Vietnamese or Chinese names. Preserved bamboo is a blanket term - pickled bamboo is preserved, too.

 

I've seen bamboo shoots dried, salt fermented, vinegar pickled and more.

I'm guessing the smelly one is the vinegar one, as I know some people do dislike it, although I find it inoffensive.

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)

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  • 1 year later...

Last night (Beijing time) I was asked by @Tropicalseniorto start a topic covering China's noodles dishes. I apologised but explaned that that would be a never-ending task. There are thousands!

Later, thinking about it, I thought maybe I could just do Guangxi, where I live. So, this morning I sent out an SOS to all my friends on WeChat, China's equivalant of Facebook combined with Twitter and much more.
 

Quote

This may sound strange, but I’ve been asked to write about all the noodle dishes in China, but that would take the rest of this life and most of next, too! So, I thought maybe I could write about noodles dishes in Guangxi. Of course, I know every city has different special noodles. Liuzhou's 螺蛳粉 (luó sī fěn), Guilin's 桂林米粉 (guì lín mǐ fěn), Nanning's 老友粉 (lǎo yǒu fěn) etc. But I don’t know all the others. I guess I have friends in every part of Guangxi, so please tell me about your home town special noodles!


Within minutes I had this list. They are still coming. I have given the city where they are considered to be local.

武鸣榨粉 (wǔ míng zhà fěn)  pressed rice noodles from Wuming, Nanning
宾阳酸粉 (bīn yáng suān fěn) sour noodles from Binyang, Nanning
北海蟹仔粉 (běi hǎi xiè zǎi fěn) crab noodles from Beihai
北海猪脚粉 (běi hǎi zhū jiǎo fěn) pig foot noodles from Beihai
玉林牛腩粉 (yù lín niú nǎn fěn) beef tenderloin noodles from Yulin
玉林牛巴粉 (yù lín niú bā fěn) beef jerky noodles from Yulin
柳江三都镇烧鸭粉 (liǔ jiāng sān dū zhèn shāo yā fěn) duck noodles from Liujiang, Liuzhou

狗肉粉 (gǒu ròu fěn)dog meat noodles from Dongquan, Liuzhou
钦州猪脚粉 (qīn zhōu zhū jiǎo fěn) pig foot noodles from Qinzhou

 

You will notice both Beihai and Qinzhou are claiming pig foot noodles, but they are adjacent prefectures on the coastline of the Gulf of Tonkin near the border with Vietnam. Which one wins, I will leave for others to decide.

 

Untitled-1.thumb.jpg.d46c7afe7b8b0379ebea0f8074201d7c.jpg

There are other cities yet to come. I'll edit and update as and when.

 

Also many noodles dishes are not specific to one place.

 

A few of these I've never had, but I'm on the lookout.

 

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Thank you so much, but now I'm completely confused. Are all the pasta type dishes in China called noodle dishes? Do they use a lot of different types of pasta? Then there's always the inevitable question. Who made them first? The Italians or the Chinese. I have a hunch that the Chinese were making them long before the first Italians we're still trying to find the wolf.

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16 minutes ago, Tropicalsenior said:

Thank you so much, but now I'm completely confused. Are all the pasta type dishes in China called noodle dishes? Do they use a lot of different types of pasta? Then there's always the inevitable question. Who made them first? The Italians or the Chinese. I have a hunch that the Chinese were making them long before the first Italians we're still trying to find the wolf.

 

Most are called noodles, but there are exceptions. Someone, not so long ago, posted on another topic that noodles were the only type of 'pasta' in China, but soon shut up when I posted pictures of non-noodles pastas. I forget which topic.

Noodle/pasta certainly existed in China long before in Italy. These ossified noodles, found in China, are about 4,000 years old according to the boffins.

 

665782083_oldnoodles.jpg.6539916f95308541790c8f434ef6cc23.jpg
 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 8/11/2021 at 10:46 PM, Tropicalsenior said:

This recipe for Chinese hand-pulled noodles showed up in my email the other day. I'm just curious. Do very many people make their own noodles and have you ever made them?

 

Very, very few people make their own noodles. In fact, the only people I've met who do so are professional noodle makers, one of whom attempted to teach me about twenty years ago. I go with the majority in this. It is not worth the effort.

 

Why spend time and effort making something so difficult to get right, when you can buy them so easily for much less than it would cost you to make them, to say nothing of the hard work and the high probability of failure?

 

I buy my lamian (拉面 - lā miàn, pulled noodles) freshly made from a small restaurant near my home which makes them to order as you watch. They are from Lanzhou and serve the noodles in various dishes, but also sell them uncooked for you to take home.

I doubt very much anyone has successfully made them from that recipe you linked to. For a start, the flour here is different (usually lower in gluten), and a herbal alkali known as 蓬灰 (péng huī), erigeron acris  is added to the mix to make them more elastic. Only true masters can make the noodles without it; it takes years of practice.

 

I had a look at a few of the "Chinese" recipes listed below, too. They are awful; full of mistakes and false information. Hainanese chiken rice isn't Chinese; it's from Singapore. Kung pao isn't from Hunan; it's from Sichuan and the recipe is nothing like Kungpao (宫保- gōng bǎo) anyway! Those recipes are, at best, American restaurant dishes, but not good ones. Some of the comments are amusing, though. Especially one comment where the person substituted almost every ingredient in the recipe for something else then announced the recipe was garbage as it didn't taste good!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Chinese food must be among the most famous in the world. Yet, at the same time, the most misunderstood.

      I feel sure (hope) that most people here know that American-Chinese cuisine, British-Chinese cuisine, Indian-Chinese cuisine etc are, in huge ways, very different from Chinese-Chinese cuisine and each other. That's not what I want to discuss.

      Yet, every day I still come across utter nonsense on YouTube videos and Facebook about the "real" Chinese cuisine, even from ethnically Chinese people (who have often never been in China). Sorry YouTube "influencers", but sprinkling soy sauce or 5-spice powder on your cornflakes does not make them Chinese!
       
      So what is the "authentic" Chinese food? Well, like any question about China, there are several answers. It is not surprising that a country larger than western Europe should have more than one typical culinary style. Then, we must distinguish between what you may be served in a large hotel dining room, a small local restaurant, a street market stall or in a Chinese family's home.

      That said, in this topic, I want to attempt to debunk some of the more prevalent myths. Not trying to start World War III.

      When I moved to China from the UK 25 years ago, I had my preconceptions. They were all wrong. Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was reported to be the second favourite dish in Britain, and had, of course, to be preceded by a plate of prawn/shrimp crackers. All washed down with a lager or three.

      Yet, in that quarter of a century, I've seldom seen a prawn cracker. And egg fried rice is usually eaten as a quick dish on its own, not usually as an accompaniment to main courses. Every menu featured a starter of prawn/shrimp toast which I have never seen in mainland China - just once in Hong Kong.

      But first, one myth needs to be dispelled. The starving Chinese! When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up. My suggestion that we could post it to them never went down too well. At that time (the late fifties) there was indeed a terrible famine in China (almost entirely manmade (Maomade)).

      When I first arrived in China, it was after having lived in Soviet Russia and I expected to see the same long lines of people queuing up to buy nothing very much in particular. Instead, on my first visit to a market (in Hunan Province), I was confronted with a wider range of vegetables, seafood, meat and assorted unidentified frying objects than I have ever seen anywhere else. And it was so cheap I couldn't convert to UK pounds or any other useful currency.
       
      I'm going to start with some of the simpler issues - later it may get ugly!

      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.
       

       
      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
       
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
       
       
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