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Food, Glorious Food!

... Chinese Style!

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One thing I think I have learned as a result of my travels is that one's palette for food must be "learned." Wherever you go, people eat different things and seem to thrive on whatever it is they consume. The foreigners who visit may find the local cuisine unappetizing, if not appalling, and yet the locals love it. Whether it is hamburgers, stir fry, or mutton stew - appetite is clearly regional!

There is no place that this acquired taste is apparent than China. We have encountered the most bizarre (to Americans) food that is clearly common place for the Chinese. Menu items (beware: the faint of heart do not read further!!!!) include snake, dog, rat, squirrel, jelly fish, and others. A visit to the market where meat and vegetables are purchased daily shows that "live" animals are preferred, and unnamed vegetables and herbs are selected to embellish the flavor. However unappetizing to Westerners, the Chinese are very efficient. Absolutely every part of an animal is consumed: meat, skin, feet, tongue, eyes, entrails, etc.
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Vegetables, fruits, and nuts abound. In Yangshou, we bicycled past groves and fields of walnut, organge, pomerants, mangoes, grapes, peaches, apples, bananas, and passion fruit. Watermelon are as plentiful as grapes might be in clusters. Again - they use ALL parts (garlic, garlic leaves and stems, water spinach, etc.). They use oils and spices -almost to a extreme. Beans - whole, curd, juice and whatever else can be extracted. And rice??? Rice 5 x a day (rice porridge - corrant for breakfast, rice noodles, rice wine, rice rice, and more rice). Lotus roots and wolf berries and Haw berries and things we never heard of. Most are prepared with great artistic flare. Many are very foreign in flavor and texture.
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Now if you think this is repulsive, just take one look around you. The Chinese are healthy, thin, and active. They live to be older in years than Americans. And, judging by our quick look, they dance and exercise and move vigorously well into their senior years!! So, can't be bad.
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Sanitary?? Ha!! Nothing is prepared with the US version of sanitary. Warmth, bugs, exhaust, ciggarette smoke - doesn't matter. Well, we have been eating it for the last week (albeit very selectively!!!) and we are still alive. Maryann swears she is now a vegetarian - never to consume animal again. Peter - well, he continues to swear off those wierd vegetables. This trip will have a profound affect on how the Billingtons will prepare and consume food.

Posted by mpbtravel 05:08 Archived in China Tagged food

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