Friday, February 04, 2011

Food, glorious food!

My journey with food here in China has been an adventure unto itself.

There are always plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and all manner of dumplings (which unfortunately because of my gluten-free diet I've had to bypass).

Meat is probably the most interesting experience. Beef is a bit of a luxury, at least in the interior. Lots of chicken and pork (pork is not recommended for ALS) and seafood. And then there are the other meats. Some wild game and some -- we in the west would generally consider more as pets.

Starting with my first meal when I arrived at the hospital:

Sliced chicken with celery, Chinese cabbage (kind of a cross between cabbage and iceberg lettuce) and the ever-present bowl of rice. The cost was roughly $10.

During the first week I mostly ate food prepared by the hospital. It was all tasty, a little heavy on the oils -- but I'm afraid some of the sauces were not compatible with my no MSG diet.

Mandarin fish with brown sauce, eggplant, rice ~ $12

Mutton Hot Pot, rice ~ $15

Stewed whole chicken, rice ~ $12

When they say whole chicken they mean beak to feet. The innards are there too -- first time I remember eating heart and gizzard, which was pretty good. But as soon as I bit into the liver I was done. Never could handle the texture/taste of chicken liver. Goose and duck liver, them's another bird altogether…

We did eat a few times at a restaurant that was in the Better Life Mall (where the supermarket was located). This was a spicy seafood dish.

Didn't order this, but again -- very common to see the *whole* chicken.

Next up, food from the supermarket.

Don't have room for the whole bird, how about just feet?

Lots of dried foods. These birds look like they didn't eat much wheat:

Pig snout and hooves:

Dried fish:

I've had the chance to practice lots of cooking during my stay here. Because the kitchen only has 4 burners and limited counter space and is used by most everyone, I've learned to do the prep work ahead of time in my room.

I cook my meals in a wok, except for the rice which takes about 15 minutes in a saucepan. 1 part rice, 2 parts water - bring to a boil, remove from heat.

Almost every dish I prepare starts with fresh garlic, ginger and onions sauteed in olive oil and some water. Then I add carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers and more water. Once the "hard" veggies are steamed I push them up the side of the wok and cook the sliced meat (chicken, beef or lamb) in the middle with more olive oil. Once the meat is done I add Chinese cabbage, and lots of cilantro and parsley mixed with a dash of salt and turmeric. Sometimes I add beans or dal (or substitute for meat).

A few of my finished creations:

No spices other than salt and turmeric. The ginger, garlic, onions, cilantro and parsley fill out the tastes quite well.

My meals are some variation of this 5-6 days a week. Occasionally I'll order something from the kitchen or eat out. But so far I've not been bored with this food -- and I've really enjoyed learning to cook for myself.

Now I have to go eat!


Gracie said...

can you get a picter of a dog at the market? if you can please send a picter. thanks grace

Mom said...

We who know her knows she just means she wants to see the little dogs running around playing at the market like Lily does.
Another day closer to burgers and fries, yes??
Love you, so much and looking forward to you coming home. Ah, a nice cold glass of ice water. Oh, it has rained three inches and we found a leaking window.:-( It's okay, I can fix that, when my book comes.

bkg said...

I find texture of your photos and words captivating. I wonder what gracie means by"dog at the market"? Knowing her I think she might mean your description of seeing ones "we might consider pets".
I love to see your food making self grow.