food is of course the most important and most interesting thing about being anywhere.
my initial enthusiasm to try and eat as many weird and wonderful things as possible was tempered by some digestion disharmony, so i’ve started to cook for myself a little more as time has gone on. Duck tongues (gristly), Jelly fish , snake (chewy), bullfrog (meaty) and plenty of miscellaneous meat have been consumed.
Highlights include garlic marinated cucumber ( as a cold starter covered in so much garlic you can taste it for days), my first hotpot (bowl of ferociously boiling stock on a gas burner set into the table, into which you throw your meat and veg and then attempt to rescue it form the maelstrom) and some chilli dishes that make your mouth tingle like you’ve just had a packet of space dust. quite a lot of the greens are stir-fried with oil and bits of bacon or shrimp, this is in my opinion how vegetables should be consumed.
Although many restaurants that cater for the more authentic Chinese crowd get busy at 6pm and close quite early the more shady streets become a hive of activity after dark with street vendours rocking up to stir fry late night suppers. i particularly like the little charcoal grills, meat and vegetable skewers are laid out to the side you just need choose what you like the look of and hand it to the man on the grill. he brushes it with oil and seasoning and fans the coals. the selection below set me back about £1.50
Restaurant etiquette is pretty much do what you want, which is a comfort when you feel a bit out of place. its not unusual to see someone spark up a cigarette whilst everyone else is eating , yesterday i watched a guy eat with one hand as he was smoking with the other.
Menu’s are a great source of translations gone wrong. they were probably poetic names in chinese but in english they are dishes such as ‘knife bean anti-inflammatory’, ‘wood shall be meat’, ‘old to let them know money belly’and ‘basin of hypodermal’ yummy!.
i came across this neon lit street not far from my flat the other night, every restaurant has wriggling piles of crayfish waiting to be cooked (look bottom right) and there was lots of grilling of oysters and clams. i’ll get up the courage to go back there and eat. i did see some sick on the road let’s hope its because a local had too much tsingtao