This entry (Part II) is much shorter, more trivial, and even has videos!
As I alluded in the beginning of my first post, the food in China is a substantial reason why the experience of being in China can be so trying on one’s temperament...and it’s not necessarily the food itself, as much as it is that you’re confronted with going to find food three times a day. Meals in China just take time. This is in large part due to the language barrier (both written and spoken), but, moreover, it’s not always obvious from looking at a restaurant if it will serve food you want to eat.
For Westerners, here are some difficult things about dining in China:
- bones, heads, and feet making appearances in a stir-fry
- unidentifiable meat (last year I was enjoying what I had convinced myself was flank steak when I was informed that it was actually horse)
- unexpectedly spicy dishes (in an unfortunate, I-can't-feel-my-lips kind of way)
- getting cold water (tap water is not safe to drink; if water is hot, then you know it has been boiled and is, therefore, safe to drink)
- breakfast looks like any other meal of the day (i.e., savory/spicy dishes)
- little to no dairy
- little to no wheat
But, there are also some incredible things about dining China:
- amazing dumplings
- tofu (each city has a different way of cooking it, so there's quite a bit of variety)
- fruit juices (usually blended/squeezed when you order)
- the variety of fruit
- vegetables are always prepared really well
- consistently perfect foam on lattes (there is a definite sense of pride in preparing things “correctly”)
- variety of beverages
- food is served on every plane flight, no matter how short (like most airplane meals the food can be hit-or-miss, quality-wise, but free food is nonetheless exciting)
- variety of candy
- Raj Indian Restaurant in Beijing (it's the best Indian I’ve had anywhere)
This year, our final two weeks were spent rehearsing in Shijiazhuang, a city of 10 million people (…I’d never heard of it, either). It was great getting to settle down in one place, because we were able to research and find great restaurants, which made our stay significantly more comfortable. We had breakfast at a nearby coffee shop nearly every morning, and found an incredible restaurant called Aegean Sea. Should your travels ever take you through Shijiazhuang, it’s definitely the place to go for great Western food (we strongly recommend the yogurt shakes, the Greek salad, the soups, the pizzas, the steaks, and the pork chop).
Here in America, we definitely have a fondness for public parks.
...but can you remember the last time you went to a public park and actively engaged yourself in some physical activity? (Picnicking doesn't count.)
In China, people love public parks. And I don't mean that facetiously.
Public parks are beautifully maintained and are very much the place to be in the mornings. People socialize, exercise, dance, stare at me as I walk by, practice erhu, sing, and just enjoy themselves in all sorts of ways.
Here are some photos and videos I took one Sunday morning during a stroll in the People's Park of Shijiazhuang.
|Look how many people there are!|
|Some sort of martial art with swords.|