An American View of Chinese Food

October 31st, 2013 by | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Talking about fortune cookies was quite amusing.  Our conversation does teach us that every country in the world has stereotypes, and we have to be cautious about how we judge other cultures.  This experience confirms why traveling and talking to locals from other countries are so important.

While I saw KFC on every block and also many Pizza Hut in Haikou and Shanghai, I visited one little restaurant at a food court in Haikou that advertised their food as “American cuisine.”  I chuckled because what I encountered was American Chinese food.  They served egg rolls, noodles, a selection of meat and some sandwiches (sandwiches is definitely an exception).  I had to ask myself, “Were egg rolls invented by Americans or Chinese?”  I learned that it was invented by Chinese restaurants in America like fortune cookies.


“American” food in China.

What’s interesting is that when each country make cuisines from other countries, they often times do still implement the flavors of their very own culture.  Another good example is when we went to a Brazilian restaurant one night in Haikou, I felt like I was eating Chinese-Brazilian because I could really taste the Chinese flavors.  Back at home in the US, many Mexican people will often say that the Mexican food we eat are not true Mexican food, and they are more of southwestern American cuisine.

As you will remember from our conversations, I found that the Chinese food I tasted in China was definitely different from the “Chinese” food I eat in the US.  While rice dishes with meat and vegetables were very common, there were food that I never found on a Chinese menu in America.  As I greatly enjoyed rice balls and baos, which were found everywhere in China, I was completely shocked that they would be rare in America because they were the most delicious authentic Chinese dishes. In fact, I know many Americans who visited China and have tasted baos, say it’s the best on the earth.  If baos were on Chinese menus in America, I believe that it could be the most popular dish.  To my American friends who are reading the blog post and wondering what is a bao.  It is a steamed bun made of flour and filled with various ingredients.  Some have meat while some have sweet custard filing or beans.  I will need to find a recipe and try cooking some myself.




Rice balls

I also tremendously enjoyed the hot pots, which I frequently had in London and once in China.  It is not only such a creative way to cook meat, fish and vegetables but also for people to get together and socialize.  It is such a quick and easy way to prepare a dinner party for friends as we only need to place a pot of boiling water at the center of the table and then cook the food by dipping them into the pot for a few minutes.

Now, I need to note that I still have not yet tried pig brains, chicken legs, cow tongues or any kind of spare animal parts.  Want to challenge me to try them when I am in China next time?  You probably shouldn’t! :)

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