The title of this post is a quote by the all hailed Chairman Mao. Since this is a Chinese history course I have began to understand the importance that Mao has on the Chinese culture and his presence that still is visible in many homes and establishments. I liked this quote and decided to apply it to my own life, thus the title of this post. This post is exploring the foods of Chengdu. Chengdu is in the Sichuan province of China and is well known for its ability to wow the taste buds with Chinese spices that leave you sweating but definitely wanting more. As a home grown America my ability to enjoy spicy food is low but as one of my goals for this trip I wish to increase my spicy food tolerance and Chengdu helped me accomplish this.
Our first few meals in Chengdu were mediocre because our tour guide didn’t think we could handle it… psh! She had the audacity to even take us to the same “Chinese” (foreigners) hotel restraurnt twice which did not fly with Druex or anyone else on the trip. However, we proved to her that we could handle it and demanded the real stuff. This lead us to my first hot pot experience…
Hot pot is found all over China but varies with ingredients and style depending on where in China you sample it. Since Sichuan is of course famous for its spicy food I decided to sample the spicy hot pot. They start with hot soup that is either spicy or mild and once it is boiling you add vegetables or various meats and when they are cooked you pick out what you want to eat and dip it in a sauce, simple enough? Not so fast. The meats and vegetables are like nooooothing I have ever dreamed of eating and I have never had so much fun eating. This meal was also enjoyed with our home stay friends and they informed were able to give us insights on what the real ways were to enjoy hot pot. I tried my best to make sure I sampled everything at least once and this left me with a few things I loved, liked and absolutely hated!! For starters the most bizarre thing was the blood, actual duck blood. When the animal is killed they drain the blood into a salt solution so it coagulates, turning it into a jello like substance. It is supposed to be good for stomach aches but it made mine a little queasy. This delicacy is definitely a mind over matter option that my mind would not let me fully enjoy. There were all different kinds of the body, some grey and purplelish ball with spkes coming out from every direction is located in the body next to the heart… The boys at our table refused to let us know what everything was until after the meal so that we would be sure to try everything. That being said there were some “noodles” which turned out to be sliced intestine… ahhhh scaretastic! There was stomach again, which I have actually, and a little embarrassingly, started to enjoy. There were Chinese sausages which never seemed to be fully cooked but were also rather tasty. The skin on the outside was a little thicker than sausages in the US which made them juicier on the inside.. but who knows what they had on the inside seeing that the Chinese use every single piece of meat from the animals. These also looked strikingly like fingers which was not a far fetched idea for the Chinese. The other options were a sheet of grey spiky something that curled up when you cooked it and a piece even came out looking just like Buckingham Badger himself. Finally there were some wild looking seafoods and vegetables but another favorite was this bacon type meat that was very fatty and full of flavor! The vegetables were obviously my favorite which was nice to have in place of the bizarre odds and ends of animals.
In order to combat the spiceyness of the meal there is a special tea served, all over Chengdu and in the Sichuan province, that helps cut the spices and tastes delicisous. Besides the food in China I am falling head over heals in love with the teas. The Chinese drink tea morning, noon and evening as well as all times inbetween. It is pronounced Cha in Chinese and served at each meal making my heart go #pitterpatter. Most restruants serve variations of Oolong tea which has gotten a bit old but we have been able to experience a few tea cerimonies which allow us to sample a few at a time.
Bon Appetit to enjoying spicy foods and stay posted for the photoshoot of Chengdu’s adventurous cuisines.