sweets in china...90% of the time that's a gross misrepresentation
Holy craps people! 11 days! That's how long it has been since I've had wifi I could actually get on and that would load pages about as quickly as one is possibly going to get here in China. (That means slow) Oddest of all, it is in the smallest city in China, Yangshuo (Giulin). At roughly 750k it is small only in China terms. They call it a village. When Beijing 20 million and Shanghai has 30 million, I guess it makes sense. Either way, the social media withdrawl is only lessened by the fact no one else here can get on it either. Sure, I could have paid for a VPN or something, but I'm cheap and they aren't always reliable. Who knows, this may be my last post from China before returning home. Then I'll be able to regale you all with tales of food and other nonsense from a fast and secure wifi connection.
Till then, my quest in this country for something sweet continues unabated despite the tide of opposition. You can probably tell from the title of this post of my ongoing struggles. Since I'm still on the journey, I thought I'd roll out a few things that make the "why am I bothering to taste this when I know I'm just going to be disappointed list." Culturally I know sweets have different meanings around the world. Many of the things here considered "dessert" are of the sugared red bean paste or sesame ball type. Interesting yes, but after you've have nothing but that, you crave something a little more. Same goes for this:
That's right fruit! At pretty much all the restaurants we've been to, the minute the fruit hits the table, you know the meal is over. I guess it is a polite way of saying, okay, you've been here long enough, now get out. I like fruit as much as the next person, sometimes, but for me, it is not a dessert. An addition to breakfast or to ward off scurvy, yes. Dessert, not by itself.
This isn't the only only travesty they are committing on sweets by any long shot. Herewith, I'm tossing out a few of the more prevalent things we've come across at more than one place, which is enough to make it a thing as far as I'm concerned.
And as if that weren't enough, one place we went served up this little gem:
Fruit, mayonnaise and sprinkles. Mmmm...nothing says good eating like mayo and sprinkles. Hey, what can we do to make watermelon more interesting? I know, let's add mayo! And some sprinkles to add more color! They'll love it! I had some flashbacks to 70's dinner party desserts with that piece of lettuce, a pear half, some mayo, cheese and a cherry on top. Well, I guess China doesn't have the total monopoly on crappy desserts.
I like to call this the cutesy dessert of which this is just one variation. It's some form of white cake with colorful frosting or gel or a smiley face or a little smiling bear. Much like Japan, China has a thing with the cutesy Hello Kitty kinds of dessert. They all look pretty but....they all taste like nothing. I mean that literally. They have no taste. The gel is just gel with color. The "frosting" is a very, very light whipped cream thing that is like a cloud. You know it is there but you can't really touch or taste it. Same with the cake. It really gives new meaning to the term plain cake. I bite in and I know it's cake by the texture but that is it. If every there was anything that tastes like nothing, this is it. Wait, no, there's more.
These cake rolls are prevalent at many places. It's the same kind of white cake all gussied up with some food coloring to make it pretty. In between the rolls is some very thin layer of jam most times. Though, it was so thin and light, you couldn't tell what flavor it was. Every now and then a raisin popped up in one of these though hard to tell if it just got lost or was placed there on purpose. Once again, looks like cake, has the texture of cake, tastes like nothing.
Now this was right up my alley. Deep fried dough coated in sugar. Simple, hard to mess up, all the ingredients to make a quick tasty dessert. Except, the bread was fried so hard it was hard to pull apart. That long frying also allowed the bread to probably soak up every bit of oil in the vat they were in. Ever seen hard bread go squish? Well, this was it. At first, I thought, not bad. Though, the more I ate it, the more the grease presented itself. Just grease and sugar and I'm sure this is the thing that made me puke my guts out later that evening in Wuhan. It was only a one day malady, but ugh, even the thought of this thing now makes me nauseas.
I bet you thought these were chocolate right. With maybe a caramel center. That was the first thing that popped into my mind but I knew that wasn't possible in this country, but I was intrigued enough to try. The lady at the counter spoke no English so I wasn't sure what it was. Me and the SO presume this was sugared bean paste with some kind of sweet potato center that actually tasted like a carrot to me. A little bean paste goes a long way and a lot of bean paste goes too far sometimes.
Fool me once, fool me every time when it comes to donuts. Technically, it is a donut. There is sweet dough, deep fried and covered in sugar. Plus, this one is filled. With the tiniest dab of, you guessed it--bean paste! The dough here was kind of sticky and I'd already had my fill of the paste for one day. I just couldn't do anymore.
This one I'm throwing in as a bonus because it was just too weird not to. The bottom part is a bun that is sweet, kind of like a King's Hawaiian Roll but with that same sticky texture as above. The real surprise here, lays on top. Looks like hair but is in fact, dried shrimp that have been partially ground up and sprinkled on top. One bite of this was enough for me, the SO and anybody else you tasted it. We will just chalk this one up to local delicacy and forget the fact they are mixing a fishy taste with sugar. Kind of like deep frying catfish in cinnamon pancake dough. In most places, that shouldn't happen. In China, they had a whole sheet pan of them, so it must be popular.
Okay, so much like the food I've here so far, it's not all bad, close, but not all. Next time I'll run down some stuff we came across that we either liked or liked enough because it wasn't as bad as other things we've had. Sometimes that is what happens when you travel in one place for a long time, you search and search and finally settle on something that, for the most part, doesn't suck. It's all part of the traveling the world food experience. Helps make your return home all the more comforting.
So have some watermelon and I'll keep my fingers crossed for more good wifi at our next stop.
And just in case you are wondering, it is currently 11pm Friday April 15th in China.