Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Part F -Teaching in China - Fabulous Food

You don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Now there's an apt line from a song. I hadn't realised how much I'd miss cheese until there wasn't any around! Or cold beer, or any one of a number of items. 
Pretending that the egg is on a piece of crunchy toast.
Add purple potato, melon and a spinach dumpling & it's kind of like Eggs Benedict!
Oh, ok, it's not really, but a person can pretend can't they!
But it got me thinking some sobering thoughts: I can't imagine what it'd be like to have to flee your country of origin and leave behind everything you've ever known, all that's familiar and comforting, to make a life in a new and strange land ... especially one that's hostile to your role as an asylum seeker and vilifies you constantly. I missed some foods for a few short weeks ... that's nothing in the scheme of things.
The food was amazing. Our hosts were keen for us to try dumplings (above) and then Peking Duck, (below) but the day they'd planned happened to be an auspicious one for weddings, and everywhere was booked out, so we had to wait. 
Wedding - with a band and fire crackers!
The wait was worthwhile!
The resounding cry was - "The duck did not die in vain!"
Above L-R. ducks being barbecued, Lacey and Candy enjoying slivers of perfectly cooked and presented duck. Bottom - the chef cutting wafer thin slices from the bird.
Below was a lovely, light, delicate dough, shaped a bit like an oyster shell, toasted on the outside and soft inside. The intended filling was laced with chilli which made my eyes water freely as it wafted past on the lazy-susan, so this Aussie made it into a burger-like item with deliciously spiced egg and beans. When you're missing home food - improvise!

I was even given a cooking lesson in the restaurant kitchen. Lack of a common language wasn't a major issue and I've got an idea how to make another delicious dish with flat bread and greens. The skillet could be a bit of a problem though ...
You want a change? How about Korean Hot Pot! Emphasis on hot, so the foreigners (without the cast iron stomachs) were given the tasty, and more or less chilli free broth. 

A wibbly strand of tofu being unwound and
lowered into the boiling liquid. Delicious!
Our school hosts had arranged for our lunches to be eaten at a lovely local restaurant. Every lunch was a generous banquet! We found the massive daily amounts of food wastage a real challenge, and kept asking for fewer dishes to be presented for us. None of us are big eaters at home and simple lunches are the go when teaching. While we managed to eat large quantities at first, we all ate less and less as the time went on, as fronting up to classes requiring a lot of energy, with an uncomfortably fully stomach, added an extra layer of difficulty. It seemed rude, but we were there to teach, not eat!
The restaurant was in a large undercover area, complete
with fish in the moat around the eating area, and budgies
and other birds singing in cages hanging from the rafters!

Fruit signals the end of the meal.
Until the last few days, all our polite requests for "less" fell on deaf ears. But after two weeks working closely together, our genuine need for more simple foods was accepted - I hope without us appearing to be overly crass or rude, and that we haven't wrecked international relations between our countries forever!

Doggie bags are becoming more popular and common, but in the 30C+ heat, it’d be unsafe to take food home unless it was able to be refrigerated on the journey.

I'll continue with the food theme when I get to I - Illness and U - Unfortunate events ... what would a trip be without them?

My previous posts about Teaching in China were our ArrivalBanquets,  Culture and comfort foods, Driving and Exercise. The next one will be on Games!




Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. it does all sound so interesting ... but the excess food would floor me too ... I love the look of the fruit bowl .. and the way you let your imagination wander to what you'd like to eat, not perhaps what's in front of you ... switch in and switch out ..

Cheers Hilary

Sue Travers said...

Hi Hilary - I'm still eating lots of bread and cheese! Plain and unexciting! Oh and vegemite too of course ;-)