Probably because when they do, it looks like this:
Pictured above is a traditional Chinese dessert. It is a thick soup, served hot, made from lightly sweetened black sesame seeds.
It tasted good, but I just can't be convinced that soup is a good idea for breakfast, much less dessert (the most important meal of the day).
Here's an image of a special treat at the Beijing Starbucks: a Red Bean Scone. I had to try it.
This next picture isn't a dessert, but it is one of the weirdest things I have ever been served anywhere in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Sea Cucumber Porridge.
The "porridge" part was actually quite tasty. The sea cucumber, on the other hand . . . Well, it tasted like an ocean-flavored piece of rubber.
I spent most of my last trip to China traveling around the Southern regions, which are known for spicy dishes and good seafood. And because I am working with resorts interested in buying Tracker boats, I was obviously around a lot of water. Nearly every meal I had included a very large fish (head, tail, and bones included) on a platter served in a sauce of varying degrees of deliciousness.
I don't have a problem with fish being served like this, although I'm not a huge fan of fish skin and I politely decline the offer of head or tail when asked.
What I do have a problem with is when the fish in question hasn't been cooked:
This was for hot pot one night in Libo, so we were supposed to cook the fish ourselves in a pot of boiling broth. All that blood, and the googly eyes staring at me every time the lazy susan spun it in my direction, were a little bit too much to handle. So I stuck with the tofu and leafy greens, and left the raw fish to my more adventurous (and native) counterparts.
Not all seafood experiences were that traumatic though. In Shanghai, Sarah and I ate at a nice restaurant whose specialty was "salt and pepper squid." Paired with a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, it was a great meal!
Many of the culinary highlights of this past trip to China revolved around Big Mountain, one of the heads of the project in Libo and my future boss. He is truly a Renaissance man: successful investor, famous photographer, writer for National Geographic China, art teacher, resort developer, world traveler, mountain man (not only in name but in deed), and chef.
Here he is pictured cooking us lunch at a local rice stand. He asked the proprietress to kindly step aside, and quickly whipped up some spicy fried rice himself for us hungry foreigners.
One one of our last evenings in Libo, Big Mountain invited us to his home for dinner. There were at least fifteen dishes, most of which I had never had before. There was a beef and mint stir-fry, a plate of homemade sausages, pork belly that takes two days to make, and several types of wild greens that I had never seen (much less eaten).
Because he knows me well, Big Mountain also made pork and vegetable dumplings (my favorite Chinese dish). They were literally the best dumplings I have ever had in my life. Big Mountain, if you're reading this, 谢谢！What a great evening!
At the Shanghai Boat Show, I really worked up an appetite. Wandering around all of the booths (an area easily the size of two football fields), attempting to convince people (in Chinese) that the Sun Tracker pontoon boat is the best boat ever made, trying on life vests for TV advertisements, kayaking in a blow-up pool, and wearing out the smile muscles in my face being a boat model all made for some pretty full days.
Each day when we broke for lunch, we headed to a traditional cafeteria-style dim sum restaurant around the corner for some authentic Cantonese food. Prepare to have your mouth water . . .
Oh, no! The dreaded chicken feet!
Here's the thing about chicken feet. They don't taste "footy" or anything like that--they taste like chicken. Just with more joint-y, bony parts than meat. So I guess I don't really get the appeal; why not just eat a nice juicy drumstick instead?
Would I eat them again? Sure, why not. But I won't go out of my way to order them. I'll have the cold-dressed jellyfish instead.
(Just kidding! I won't have anything on this menu! I have to draw the line somewhere, people!)
If you've never been to China, then you've probably never had truly authentic Chinese food. For better or for worse, the next few posts will cover some of the dishes I've been served on my most recent trip to China.
This is the noodle stand in Libo that Big Mountain took us for breakfast each morning. This lady keeps the place clean, the broth hot, and the meat non-refrigerated. Mmm. Soup for breakfast isn't necessarily my thing, but I have to admit that it tasted pretty good!
The broth is kept at a constant boil in a huge pot (you can see it in the far righthand corner of the picture). For each serving, she ladles broth into one of the smaller pots and adds wide, flat rice noodles. Your choice of meat is then scooped (raw) into the mix--we always chose the ground pork. A few pieces of lettuce and a partially fried duck egg later, she's finished with her part in making your breakfast. The flavor is then up to you--a wide variety of "toppings" are available to choose from (see lower lefthand corner of picture). There are hot peppers in oil, chopped raw garlic, snipped chives, pickled herbs, and fresh mint. The final result is something like this:
Breakfast of champions!
This may sound slightly off-topic, but I love salad bars. I like my salads light on the lettuce and heavy on the toppings--carrots, mushrooms, roasted beets, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, hard-boiled egg . . . You get the idea. And this is relevant because? I like my cookies the same way. While I can appreciate a soft sugar cookie as much as the next person, what I really love is a cookie that has it all. And these cookies, dear reader, have it all. "Everything but the kitchen sink," as they say.
I used pastel M&M's, which gave them a very festive look just in time for Easter. Not that these cookies made it anywhere near next Sunday. I had to hide four of them just so I would have enough to photograph the next day.
Recipe for Kitchen Sink CookiesAdapted from BakergirlMakes 26-30 cookies.Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups flour1 tsp baking powder1 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp salt1 cup oats1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut1/2 cup brown sugar1/2 cup granulated sugar1 egg1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature3/4 cup M&Ms2/3 cup white chocolate chips2/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pecans, roughly choppedInstructions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and following
five ingredients, through coconut. In a large bowl, beat sugars and butter
until combined, about one minute. Add egg and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining ingredients (M&Ms, white chocolate chips, raisins, and pecans). Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls (or slightly larger). Place on prepared baking sheets and bake 10 minutes on the middle rack, one batch at a time.