Good news: people eat EVERYTHING in China.
Bad news: people eat EVERYTHING in China.
In general, this mantra has proven to be true. We almost made the mistake recently of ordering “pig brain rice;” Fortunately, we wisened up and asked for the English menu before ordering a dish that we thought only said “pork rice” in Chinese! One morning, we saw restaurant managers proudly carrying live ducks tethered to a pole back to their businesses, undoubtedly so that these poor fowl could soon meet their maker. And a few days ago, Brian and I learned the hard way that the green vegetable soup we ordered actually had a menagerie of bone, fat, and skin. Oy!
In addition to eating all types and parts of animals, the Chinese are becoming more and more open to Western food. I was greatly relieved to discover upon arrival here that there are multiple cafes with excellent café au laits within walking distance (including our favorite Costa, which we describe in a previous post). We’ve found sandwich bread of decent quality (and even a Subway sandwich shop not too far away!), yogurt has become increasingly popular, Dove chocolate bars have secured a niche in the campus snack shop, and we know where to find good pizzas and hamburgers.
For items that are a little more difficult to come by, there is a luxury imported food store about 45 minutes walking from campus. The last time we went, Brian and I chowed down on an excellent salad mix they had. We can find Italian coffee and cereal,
Korean canned tuna with kimchi sauce (quite tasty, actually!), barbeque sauce, flavored oatmeal, gourmet cheese, Betty Crocker yellow cake mix, tortilla chips, canned soup, British shortbread, German boxed milk. People from all over the world who now live in Hangzhou come to this store seeking some little taste of home!
There are foods I already miss and have not found—chili/thick stews, homemade pancakes, pumpkin pie, salsa, lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, salmon fillets (I am hesitant to eat fresh fish here, and the fish that I can find is packed with bones). So perhaps the Chinese don’t quite eat EVERYTHING. We have definitely had some excellent meals, but we’ve also had to adjust our expectations based on availability and expense. Western food is more expensive, and must be rationed.
The hunt for nutritious, inexpensive, sanitary, and tasty food can be difficult at times. So occasionally Brian and I crave a glass of wine or pint of beer! :) While the Chinese aren’t known for their beer and wine, Western types of alcohol are becoming more
common. Light beers are ubiquitous, but they are largely tasteless (and alcohol-less—on average only 2%). We were ecstatic to discover that Tsingtao, the most famous Chinese brewery, makes a stout that is excellent and only about $1.50/bottle.
This stout (and all stouts) are incredibly difficult to find, however--apparently the Chinese don’t like dark beers. We stocked up on some yesterday! :)
Though wine is increasingly common on menus, wine by the glass is almost nonexistent here. The campus grocery store
actually has some bottles of inexpensive Chinese red wine, but I haven’t worked up the nerve to try it yet. Stay tuned!