china food, the final word....no seriously, this is it, i'm done
All good things must come to an end and so does my food journey and wrap up of food in China. It's been a bumpy road for sure, but that is all part of the traveling experience and the reason I go. Well, I do always hope the food will be inspiring or at least tasty, but I definitely got stories to tell about what I had while I was gone this time.
Instead of ending on a down note, because that is quite possible, I wanted to highlight just a few things we had which were pretty good. Whether we thought they were good because we were desperate to find something or they really were tasty could be debatable. For now I'll just say I saw, I ate, I liked.
How could I pass up something cream filled? I got one of each--plain cream, Earl Grey Tea cream and chocolate cream. These things were the size of hamburger buns. The bread was moist, spongy and cake like. Each also had a pretty ample spread of a thick cream with the consistency of frosting. Plain really was plain, but nice. Chocolate was fine, could have used more of it though, still good. I liked the Earl Grey tea one, but the SO did not. I could really taste the tea and mixed with the cream, it was like a cup of sweet tea. Definitely different. They were kind of a surprise and I probably should have gotten more. At $17 HKD (about $2.25) for three, they were both a bargain and not over sweetly yummy.
Here's the thing, yes there are Starbucks in China. They aren't quite as prevalent as you'll find here, but they are there. Every now and then we'd see one and run in as a lark to see how similar their offerings were. None of them have trente and the language barrier usually caused some confusion when asking for unsweet, light ice, blended or one of the other thousands of things we Americans say when we order a drink here. I always perused the food and came across this mushroom and cheese turnover? hot pocket? empanada? thing at only one of them and had to try it (I was really hungry at the time too). They did heat it up for me and while I couldn't tell you what kind of mushrooms or cheese were in it, I kind of liked it. The shell was thin and crispy and it also had a nice little spice kick to it. After finishing it, my one thought was "how can we get these in the states!" I'd totally go to Starbucks (more-ish) for this kind of food if they had it. Probably not gonna' happen though.
I've never really been into jerky, too dry and tough to chew for me. When we were in Macau, we walked down some street where it seemed every store was pushing the above thing they called bakkwa. I was dubious at first and didn't want to try it, but once I did, I was hooked, especially the pork ones. While it is a dried meat, it isn't as tough or dry as jerky. It has some kind of minimal residual moist softness to it that keeps it from being all the way dried out. It is also salty sweet which hits my taste spot.
You can get it in slabs by the pound or in bags of little packets like the above. For some reason they suggest putting the above small bags into boiling water for 5 minutes or so to heat it up and then eat it. All that really does it make it warm. Me and the SO liked them just as much as is. Ripping open the pack and feasting away. We got a couple large square salty sweet slices to share and some spicy pork mini which had a nice kick. I've been told this is hard to find here, but I think I'm gonna accept that as a challenge to see if I can find it, that's how much we liked it.
HA! Like I'm ever gonna pass up a chance to try a cinnamon roll anywhere, especially in China. As soon as I saw it, I made a beeline for it. Gotta try! Gotta try! Gotta try! I could tell right away it had a powdered sugar icing and not cream cheese, but that did not deter me. It wasn't particularly big, but it was thick and an attempt was at least made to make it into a circular shape. Not a great shape, but good enough.
The bread was a tad thicker than you'd want, but like a bagel at least. You could taste the cinnamon through most of it, however, towards the center it seemed they wanted to reinforce the idea it was a cinnamon roll and there was a huge glob of it right there. Fortunately I saw it when I pulled the thing apart, otherwise it would have been a big 'ol mouthful of cinnamon. Sometimes that can be too harsh, but it was mixed with some sugar and whatever cinnamon they used wasn't of the strongest flavor. You could taste it, you just weren't overwhelmed with it, glob notwithstanding. While it doesn't quite rank up there with some of the best, in comparison with some of the stuff I'd had on my trek, it was quite good enough. In that moment, I ate it and was fine with it.
That's it! Wait, what about the little cakes above? Well, I actually just wanted to leave you with a final shot of what we normally came across. Pretty shapes and colors on a plate, no taste on the palate. Some even lacked texture, they were like eating a cloud. Thus the pic is just a little reminder you can't judge a book by it's cover or a dessert by it's colorful frosting.
Well then, there it is, all the stuff about food in China you (and I) can stand. While on the whole the food leaves a (whole) lot to be desired, there are things worth noshing on, you just have to be creative, adventurous and search them out. For me it was an expedition of desserts, for you it may be something else. Either way, sometimes it's the journey and not the end result. In this case I feel it was both as there were just enough surprises to have made my back alley food searches totally worthwhile, no matter what the SO says!