So, here's some pictures of the food we ingested and the thoughts I have about it.
MSP Airport: Cuong's trip to China began with solemnly and unceremoniously stuffing his face with Panda Express at the airport. Thankfully, he documented it. This is what all tried and true travelers do when embarking on a trip to the middle kingdom.
School Canteen, Wuhan: This was Cuong's first meal in China. He opted for a lotus root soup (Wuhan specialty, especially in the winter), a pancake type thing, and I ate eggs and tomatoes.
My school has about 40 canteens, each one with a dizzying array of choice, ranging anywhere from spicy duck neck to dumplings. I love bringing guests to the canteens; they feel like a microcosm of the bustle, diversity, and singularity of China.
School Canteen, Wuhan China: This was for New Years' Eve. Actually, on this day, I found out that the communist party had ruined my only friendship with a Chinese person, which I found quite annoying and inauspicious. Actually, it turned out to be only 65% ruined and because my friend felt strange about the situation, she invited us out to a really awkward NYE dinner in the fancy school canteen, which I can only now describe as the swan song of our friendship.
Coca-Cola Chicken (yep):
School Supermarket, Wuhan China: Finally, we ate Wuhan's specialty- Hot Dry Noodles. These were cooked up in about 2 minutes and thrown together with sesame paste, soy sauce, water, and then fixings. These noodles are goddamn delicious but a lot of my students are prejudiced towards 'dry' noodles and prefer noodle soups.
Vegan/Buddhist Restaurant, Wuhan China: On New Years' Day we ventured on a bus, crutches and all!, to one of my and Nadeesha's favorite vegan restaurants. Their specialty is imitation meat and so we ate fake fish, fake sweet and sour chicken, fake meat patties, etc, all done Wuhan style.
Snack Street, Wuhan China: My friend DingDing babysat Cuong and I one cold day and took us to the famous 'snack street' where Cuong promptly ate all the grossest things available in the province.
Spicy Duck Neck:
Dumplings (And Hot, Dry Noodles in the background)
Delicious eggy, ricey omelet.
Some typical 'sweets'
The snack street is cool, here's how it looks:
Cat Cafe, Wuhan China: Milk Tea. This cafe had about 15 cuddly cats who draw Chinese college students from all over Wuhan to come capture them on film. Their milk tea was foamy and delicious.
School Canteen, Wuhan China: Cuong went for a delicious noodle soup this time.
Baotong Temple Vegan Restaurant, Wuhan China: This vegan restaurant is even better than the one we went to earlier. This is likely because instead of only riffing off of meat dishes, this restaurant cooks vegetables damn well, with a kaleidoscope of spices and flavor. Dishes included: Stir-fried mushrooms, fried lotus root, spicy cauliflower.
We also checked out the temple before eating.
My Apartment, Wuhan China: We made a multi-colored salad to make up for the oily, fried nature of chinese cooking. I was picking through for chunks of cheese, likely.
Korean Restaurant, Beijing China: Our first night in Beijing we did a 'noodles' tour with an awesome local guy named Danny. He brought us to 4 different restaurants until we were sick and obese.
These are the side dishes- Kimchi and soft, mashed tofu with chives (so delicious!):
Cold Korean noodles....so good!
We learned that noodles, like most other things, come from China!
The second restaurant: Noodle Soups
The Third Restaurant: Fresh, hand-pulled noodles, "la mien." I'm entering a food coma in this photo.
The Fourth restaurant: Dumplings (Baozi) and corn soup
Danny was awesome. At one point, Cuong mentioned biking, and Danny casually told us that he had once went for a long ride, from Beijing to Southern China.
Near the Great Wall, Beijing China: A pretty typical, big Chinese meal. Most restaurants serve dishes on a lazy Susan and everyone shares.
I always suspected that going to the wall would be like going to the Minnesota State Fair but worse. Turns out, people are terrified of winter here. So, we had the wall to ourselves, and there must have been someone important visiting Beijing that day since the government made a blue day happen (this is a real thing).
Hot Pot Restaurant, Beijing China: My friend, a fellow in Beijing, took us to the most famous hot pot chain in China. It was frighteningly delicious.
Here is poor John, ordering on a screen- this is what happens in China.
They give the foreigners aprons and even offer arm protection!
Unfortunately, we stopped taking pictures of our meals after this, so the rest of this post really goes downhill from here.
Yellow Mountain, Anhui China: There was absolutely no good food eaten on Yellow Mountain but it looked like this, so:
Hong Cun Village, Anhui, China: This is me shamefully eating a sample found while walking along the ancient streets of Hong Cun Village, where several scenes of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" were filmed. I don't even know what I'm eating here! What an uninteresting picture!
Are you ashamed of eating too many samples? I am, but I do it anyway.
Near Yellow Mountain, Anhui, China: Cuong's first tea ceremony! Tea ceremonies are essentially opportunities to wait a really long time for your tea to be ready. Bottom of the barrel, folks. We are on to tea.
Some Mall, Wuhan, China: No more pictures of actual unique Chinese food, but here's us looking really proud of ourselves for eating DQ blizzards.
Coming soon to a DQ advertisement near you!
The second half of our trip: Guilin, Yangshuo, and Hong Kong, China: No food pictured.
Train Station, Guangzhou China: On our train layover, we rustled up some food to eat. I ordered durian pizza from a coffee shop, and Cuong ate this packaged duck neck.
And I guess that that disgusting, wrapped piece of neck is as good a place as any to end.