Few days ago I posted this picture on my social accounts and a little bit after that I got a lot of texts of consolation. People were worried about me, thinking that I had to eat insects to survive. I just want to reassure everyone: the food here is pretty good and I am totally fine. It is even too good since I put on weight.
I want to start saying something really important: what they eat in China is completely different from what we eat in Chinese restaurants in our countries. I’m not talking about sushi, that’s from Japan. Would you believe me if I told you that I haven’t even eaten a single spring roll in 3 months? I am not saying that it is not a Chinese dish but I swear you, I never saw one at restaurants. We can compare the spring rolls and the fettuccine Alfredo, something that in America is considered Italian but in Italy we have no idea about what they are.
I just talked to the Chinese nanny who lives with me; she looked horrified when I told her that in Italy spring rolls are considered the most famous Chinese dish. She told me that they usually eat them to celebrate New Year but it is not their tradinational food.
Do they eat a lot of rice in China? Yes, they DO eat a lot of rice. During every single meal I have my little bowl with rice (breakfast, lunch and dinner). They use that in the same way Italian people use bread, as a side dish. Sharing is caring is a good way to explain how meals’ time works in China. Both at home and at the restaurants, the food is placed at the center of the table and we share everything. What I usually do, imitating them, is taking a little bit of food from different plates and put it in my bowl. It feels like eating a different risotto everyday.
Vegetables, meat, fish, fruit, tofu, soup (the soup cannot be missed because it is what they drink. At the restaurant, for example, they only serve hot water or tea). The ayi who works for my Chinese family cooks 7-8 different dishes for each meal. A typical dinner can be:rice, soup with duck, pork, 2 or 3 different kind of vegetables, fish with potatoes, egg and tomato, noodles with beef.. It works like this even for breakfast and lunch. I have no idea how can she does that. She must be very creative. Luckily, for breakfast, she cooks “normal” food, such as sweet potato, boiled egg, omelette, dumplings, Chinese bread..I know, it is not the common breakfast I usually have at home but I got used to this stuff in the morning.
There are some things that I didn’t expect to find here or at least not that much. For example, they eat a lot of pumpkin: the cook we had before made rice with pumpkin every morning; scrambled egg and tomato is one of the most popular dish, besides that I’m eating A LOT of eggs ( even 3 times a day); they use a lot of beans to fill cakes and cookies and black sesame as well; hot soups even in summer and you can put inside everything you desire: vegetables, meatballs, noodles, tofu or fish; at last, I very often find peanuts in many dishes.
In China, there is a big variety of street food. You can try different kinds of meat, squid, vegetables skewers, the chinese pizza,that I personally don’t like ( a very thin dough filled with beef and vegetables); the stinky tofu is a must even if the smell can make you throw up; coconut and mango juice; caramelized fruits and a lot of delicious pastries.
I’m sure you also want to know about the most disgusting things as well. I really like Chinese food, and I always found something to eat that I liked. It depends on your personal taste but there are some food that I cannot eat though. Pork, for example. I don’t know why they really love to eat the fat part so much. They actually cook whole pieces of fat. Chicken leg or duck neck. I would say that the meat has a different taste here and they eat disgusting part of the animal. I had the pleasure to see them eating cicadas as they were potatoes chips. They actually made that creepy “crick-crock” sound when they ate them. I was tempted to try the insect but my stomach sent me clear inputs.
Another question that people often ask me is about Chinese people eating dogs. I’m not here to open a debate because everyone has a different opinion about that; I’m just going to say what I have experienced. I have never seen dog’s meat on the menu and no one has never offered me that. I talked to one of my friends, a German girl who lives in Hangzhou, and she told me that she did see that meat in very expensive restaurants and while she was traveling outside HZ she ended up in a market where they sold it.
Let’s move on and talk about what they drink. It is kind of obvious, but they drink a lot of tea. In Hangzhou, people consume a lot of green tea, cultivated in beautiful tea plantations. Anywhere you go they will offer you a very, very hot and tiny cup of tea and they will fill it until you leave. Everything they drink must be extremely hot, they say it is their secret to always look young. I rarely see someone drinking coffe but I saw many Chinese drinking a lot of alcohol in the club. As in many western countries, even Chinese people like to walk in the street sipping something: it is usually some kind of tea, like milk tea or fruit flavored tea. My personal favorite one is the milk tea with bubbles from 1diandian.
If you want to know more about living in China, contact me 🙂