Adventures in Eating & Cooking
Alright, so the reason I have not posted in eons and eons (or a month if you’re not amused with my hyperbole) is because I went back to China to visit my relatives. However, visiting relatives was not the only thing I did. I went to several parks, climbed mountains, learned how to use the most inconvenient non-sitting toilets, but most importantly (to this blog at least), I ate.
And wow, was there a difference between eating in China and eating in America. Every morning during my stay, I would follow my dad to the nearby markets where farmers from just outside the city would bring their trade. Fruits and vegetables were often sold together at stands at extremely low prices. Organic, fresh, cheap, and delicious. What I loved most were the giant sweet peaches characteristic of Beijing. They were juicy, ripe, and bursting with the sugary peachiness. The tomatoes were also fresh and juicy, and the cucumbers were amazing: crisp, cool, and clean like grass splashed with morning dew.
Sometimes there would be small stands specializing in grains. They sold different types of rice (fluffy white rice, small yellow rice, sweet-smelling rice, sticky rice, etc.) and nuts by the kilogram. We would then bring them home to stew congee, which is what most Chinese people eat for breakfast.
There were also soy product stands selling hot freshly hand-squeezed soy milk, tender tofu, and various mixes of flavored tofu/tofu skin. Next to these stands was the fresh fish market, with newly caught fish squirming in buckets that the man kills for you on the spot.
Ironically enough, while I was sampling the fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish in Beijing, I was also reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a critique of the processed foods and industrialized agriculture of America. It disgusted me to find that so much of our food depends on corn and its components, which food scientists extract and manipulate (for example high fructose corn syrup, or some protein extracted from corn to add nutrition to certain foods). It also disturbed me how relatively rare and expensive hand-grown organic crops are.
This disturbing difference is probably best explained by the different agricultural systems. China is made up of millions of poor farmers with small lots, whereas the US has wealthy giant “land”lords who own thousands of acres to generate massive amounts of the same crop. This is because China is too overpopulated to monopolize the small lots, since that would mean the jobless farmers would have to move into the already overcrowded cities. America, on the other hand underwent movements from the farm to urban and suburban areas due to job availability and convenience.
Ok, I’m going to getting all intellectual, because it’s getting me off topic. My point is that China has great, fresh food. However, the downside is that the food there is nowhere as clean as the food in the US. In fact, I contracted a bit of food poisoning from eating raw dates that were not washed properly… So remember, when in China, make sure to cook food thoroughly and wash fruits with dishwashing soap (or peel the skin).
Oh, and Chinese restaurants in China are 100 x more authentic than the Chinese food in Chinatown/Flushing. It’s not that Chinatown/Flushing food are not delicious, just that it is distinct from China food. Anyways, I’m going to stop babbling now and go back to the photography and reviews in my next entry!