Why I Came Back to China

That’s right, the answer is: FOOD! It’s not that Vietnam doesn’t have good food. It definitely does. Incredible fruit. Aromatic herbs. Cheap coconuts and avocados. Insane curries. Hanoi and Saigon have incredible expat food scenes. And yet, while cycling, I found myself mostly eating rice noodles for breakfast and dinner, with rice and tofu for lunch in between. Maybe it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough, or because I couldn’t read, or because I had nobody to guide me. Who knows. I got bored. I didn’t necessarily miss the taste of Chinese food – though don’t get me wrong, I do love spicy and greasy. Rather, I missed the variety. Valleys and gardens are full of insane vegetables…why is it so hard to get them on my table?

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First meal back. The boss shows me his fridge, I point at some beans and tell him to do what he will with them.

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Fried cashews. The meal for four grown men, including this deluxe dish and severeal veggie platters, costs less than ten dollars.

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Veggie and meat skewers – four for a dollar.

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Clay pot soups, pick your veg…

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And oh, the pastries! Pumpkin cakes, potato cakes, scallion cakes, cabbage cakes, red bean cakes, pizza-like stuff, six for a dollar!

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Oh my lord, they have red beans in the fridge? Pre-soaked and boiled, ready to be sauteed with onions, peppers, and ginger? You have to be kidding me.

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Not the best photo, but anyway….Spicy-sour fava bean soup?! Does it get any better than this?

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Fried fava beans and potato strips.

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Mouth-numbing tofu

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Even if the boss promises you that the bitter gourd won’t be all that bitter….it will be. Don’t order it.

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Chives and eggs

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Diced peppers and eggs

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“Bean Powder” noodles with chili oil/vinegar suace, topped with crushed sesame and peanuts. $1 = 3 bowls.

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Shiitake stir-fry.

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“Do you have any vegetarian dumplings?” “These are all vegetarian. You want shiitake or pickled cabbage?” “I love you.”

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A new variety of scallion bread, kindof panini-ish.

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Dahhhh, got the focus wrong! Baked scallion breads, baked Tibetan buckwheat cakes.

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Some vegetable I had never seen before. Oh, the joy of point-and-order.

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Runny tofu soup with numbing sauce – this’ll wake you up on a nippy morning.

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Tibetan pancakes, price inflated 250% because it’s Lijiang.

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Saw this on the street, but no vendor.

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My friends went to McDonald’s and paid $8 each for meals. I went to the market and got this for $0.84: bean jelly, fried and then served with chili oil, vinegar, cilantro, and radish strips.

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And, fresh-sliced, fresh-fried spicy taters.

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Yup, breakin’ a rule. It was eat this or go hungry.

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Or so I thought. Who knew they were roasting potatoes in the other room? I would gladly have paid for those instead.

And….the next three days were more of the same. Almost no restaurants; just shops with stoves where the owners would cook us either ramen or rice and eggs. I guess maybe the mountains are the same everywhere. Regardless: I love you, China.

This entry was posted in China, The Food, Yunnan and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why I Came Back to China

  1. mingyulee says:

    야!!! 중간에 저 두부!! 라조!!! 응허엏문이ㅏ힐ㄴㅍㅇ루ㅗㄶ
    저거 택배보내 나한테!

  2. 썌키 says:

    I gotta stop tuning in to your blog just before dinner time.

  3. SHAKY says:

    you dirty shaky

  4. Alex Kung says:

    Shiittake not Shi..t! LOL

    • Michael Roy says:

      Alex, glad to know you’re still checking in, even if it’s just to correct me! My English is getting worse by the day. A few days ago an old friend emailed me and said my accent sounded Canadian…