Wednesday, March 14, 2012

...what we are eating...


The food here in Xi'an has certainly lived up to its reputation.  Outstanding.  Flavorful.  Diverse.  Plentiful.  Definitely plentiful.  I am mentally reviewing meals we have served our Chinese friends in Lexington, and wondering what they think when they sit down to a table with only 4-5 bowls/plates of food. 

Here is a snapshot from the lazy susan at the local restaurant the driver, Mr. Chen, suggested yesterday.  We each had bowls of pumpkin soup and then there were 2 other soups as well as bread (not pictured), and this photo was taken after 2 or 3 dishes had already been removed.

This is a spinach tofu dish (as far as I could tell).  It was delicious.  However, there are very few vegetarian dishes in this country...lots of very tasty meat.

Our driver, Mr. Chen (who has nerves of steel and total control of the wheel...thankfully!), with the utensil they use to make a specific kind of noodle.  He hollered to the kitchen for them to bring one to supplement his excellent "sign" language. be continued...

On Tuesday, Madame Wang, the principal, and Xiaolan, the international coordinator, took us to eat "Hot Pot" at a very nice restaurant.  The tables have a sunken center with gas burners and a large pot of boiling broth with various meats and vegetables.  Then you take a small soup bowl to what I'll call a "sauces and seasonings bar" and you create your own sauce.  Back at your table, broth from the communal pot is added to each person's individual sauce.  Then plates of raw meat and vegetables are brought to the table and you add whatever you want to the pot an fish it out with your chopsticks when it floats to the top (indicating it is cooked).

 Our friendly server with butterfly shrimp.

Many kinds of noodles are also brought, including a beet noodle, sweet potato noodle and a fancy noodle created during a performance that resembles a skillful lasso-ist.  After he finished swinging these noodles, each table received a pile to add to their hot pot.  You can see the principal and Xiaolan in the background.  They are wearing red aprons (just like Ben above:) provided by the restaurant because the meal can be easy to wear.  This place has creature comforts down to an art form.  Need a hair tie or glasses cleaner?  Provided before you were distracted enough from the food to even realize you needed them!

While the restaurant meals have certainly been a welcome treat, our regular fare is fairly hard to beat.  Here is a snapshot I took of Ben this evening in the canteen.  We eat breakfast and supper there.  For less than    5 yuan, we have a great meal.  (That is less than $1USD for both of us)  I will say, sometimes we are unsure what exactly we are eating in our soup.  The other night it definitely looked like octopus, which was very sweet.  Another new item we finally identified with the help of other teachers is lotus root.

We eat the noon meal on the next floor in the regular dining room.  Although you can't see any students in the background, there were several on the other side of the dining hall, and many were scurrying in and out to keep an eye on the basketball games in the main courtyard.

My chopsticks skills are improving.  Its also encouraging to know that it is quite acceptable to pick up your bowl and drink the soup!  Also, the rice is pretty sticky, that's another bonus.

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