It was suggested that I use this blog to not only talk about teaching and living in China, but also what I am eating. There is, perhaps, some misconceptions about Chinese food. I haven’t seen any insects on sale here (though I think they have them, but more for tourists than naive Beijingers), although I did see a deep-fried squid on a stick in the hutong area. It isn’t all sweet and sour pork, chicken chow mein and egg-fried rice either.
I eat most of my meals in the school canteen. I have a canteen card which I need to top up every once in a while, but dinner (lunch) and tea (evening meal) cost about a pound each. Breakfast – usually rice porridge and fried bread – costs about 10p. That is a generalization, as I don’t know the current exchange rate, but last time I checked it was about 100 RMB equaled about 10 pounds. Below are some pictures of the food I’ve eaten in the school canteen over the previous weeks. As you can see, there is a variety of food eaten in the school canteen, and this is just a small sample of what is available. They also have lots of fruit. The food is quite oily, so it can often make eating it a bit trickier and more prone to slopping!
Breakfast of rice porridge (basically water and rice) – it is strangely filling. Also available at breakfast is sponge cake, vegetables, dumplings and bowls of milk, from what I can gather, as well as different types of fried bread.
During my training course last week, I also went out for Japanese noodles with some other trainees. This was what I had, and I rediscovered the drink Calpis, which I had when I was last in Japan.
Calpis and Japanese noodles.
Chinese food in China apparently tastes a lot different to how it tastes in Britain (I say apparently, because I rarely had it in Britain). They add oil (and chilies) to many foods. But, like Britain, different regions of China have different traditional dishes. Whilst rice is served a lot in the school canteen, I think Beijing falls under the region of North China cuisine, which is more noodle centred, than the more-Southern rice centred. Chinese rice is sticky and clumpy, which makes it easy to pick up with chopsticks.
Interesting array of meals. The red stuff above is tomato and egg and is quite possibly my favourite thing on the menu.
Many dishes in the canteen also seem to have chilies and peppers in them so they are sometimes a bit spicy. There are three floors to the canteen, and on the second floor you can get more ‘Western’ food, including pasta. Chicken burgers and popcorn chicken are also popular. You can also get food to take away (da bao in Chinese), where it will be put in a polystyrene tray for you.
I have tried more ‘unusual’ dishes. When we went out for Beijing roast duck, shortly after I had arrived, we ordered some duck tongues which were rubbery and lacked taste. I’ve yet to try chickens’ feet, which I’m told don’t have much meet on them.