chinese food for thought

i’ve always had issues with food… like almost my entire life, since i was about 3 or 4.  me not eating meat is not a choice.  let’s just say, it just is.  and for the record, that includes vegetables.  i tend to tell people that i’m non-carnivore, not a vegetarian as i find it difficult to eat many vegetables.

i have been doing better over the last 15 years or so, eating stuff that i had resisted for nearly a lifetime.  some fish has come not my diet and now in china, more vegetables are doing so.

china is essentially a big meat eating country.  they love their food, but most of all, they love their meat.  almost anything.  you walk on the streets and you see the offerings.  sometimes i’m close enough to blanching.  and to answer that unasked question, no, i’ve not seen any fried dogs.

anyway, eating has been an adventure, but more and more i’m introducing more stuff into my diet.  china isn’t very much into bread, cheese and plantains.  we eat out a lot, because its easy and cheap.  very cheap.

take this meal at the food court in lotte (not lotto as i’m prone to say) mall. it consisted of mushrooms, some greens, some kind of vegetable cake, and hot peppers.  you can add anything you want into a metal bowl (you pay by weight) and they will prepare it for you in a kind of sauté way.  they add ginger, peanuts, garlic, some liquids (probably some kind of soy sauce).  GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAwith that we had 2 kinds of fried noodles, and some brown rice with stuff.  quite tasty and extremely filling for both dawn and i.  cost?  less than US$8.00 each.  oh, yes, that included 2 8-10 ounces of freshly squeezed fruit juices.  orange and papaya in one, kiwi, orange and something else in the other.  98 yu (just about US$16.00), filling, and very healthy.


i was struck by the zen-like quality of the layout, very calming, very green, lots of space.


by the way, this lotte mall, is probably a mid-tier mall in tianjin.  probably.  definitely not top tier (that would probably be (hisense or exchange malls).  but there is not many in south florida to compare.   perhaps town center in boca or aventura.  but those 2 wouldnt compare to hisense or exchange.

but remember, tianjin’s comparison in the states would probably chicago, atlanta, seattle, san francisco etc.



this is a dish i ‘made’ myself, if ‘made’ is the right word.  its actually left-over noodles that i stir fried with other stuff… green peas, tomatoes, onion and some kinda baked vegetarian dumpling that i absolutely love.  add some olive oil and peppers and i was good to go… chopsticks and all.

obesity is not an issue in china yet, but with the proliferation of foreign franchises like mcdonalds, kentucky fried, and one or two others, i do see some worrying signs.

still, as it is, it is very hard to gain weight in china.  dawn certainly has lost weight and i’m sure that in the first few months, i have dropped a couple of pounds.  however, i stay away from the scale…. prefer the sense of surprise joy when i finally do weigh.

 of course, along with the above american franchises, there are subway, starbucks (virtually on every corner), and pizza hut.  but this is a different pizza hut than we are used to.  here, pizza hut is a high-end restaurant where pizza is generally incorporated into the meal as the entree. however, there are the traditional appetizers and desserts as part of the meal.  it would be just like you go to a restaurant that also serves pizza.  but this is a pizza hut franchise  but very different.  but this is china.

and of course i have to round this out with tea and beer.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAtea, as a beverage, originated in china (check wiki) and there is a long history of it.  the british popularized it, exploited it and has now brought it to its new low… tea bag blends.    

here in china, almost anything is used to make teas, and its the real thing.  not blends or additives.  real bush.  the image right has from clockwise from top: chrysanthemum, buckwheat, oolong, sorrel, with lemon in center.  image below:   a special kind of green tea.

when i look back into my youth, i almost invariably had hot liquids first thing in the morning and last thing at nights.  it was just what my parents taught us and i think somewhere along the line we were told it was healthy.  somewhere along the way we began drinking cold drinks like apple and orange, then sugary syrup drinks and now even babies are given colas in their first few years.  ugh! the damage this is doing…




but in china, tea is drunk mainly hot all throughout the day.  when you think of it,  you can understand the benefits.  firstly, most teas are naturally healthy.  but there is real benefit in drinking something hot in the morning and at night.  heat breaks up oils, cold causes oils to congeal.  think of that in your stomach.

in fact, most drinks are served warm in traditional chinese establishments.  only  in food courts and hotels are there options for drinks to be served cold.  and in most traditional restaurants, you have to ask for ‘bing’- ice.

most often, beer is served warm.  the local beer is called tsingtao, pronounced ‘chingdow’, and tastes something like corona or better yet, stella artois.  quite nice really and you often get it in large bottles.  of course, i am quite used to seeing jamaicans drink war m beer, but for me its ‘bing kuai de boli, qing’ (a glass of ice please).