Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Beijing Food Critic

This is the beginning of my fourth full day in China and this much has become evident; the Chinese will eat anything.

If it swims, flies, crawls, creeps or slithers the Chinese will figure out a way to roast, marinate, fry or boil it. And if they can't do that they'll just serve it plain raw.

To be sure, there's plenty of Peking Duck to be had on the menus of local restaurants but they also offer roast pigeon.

Back at home I've had a recurring pigeon problem around my house. I know what those dirty birds do and I'm not about to eat one no matter how it's served up.

Like turtle soup? How about the whole turtle sitting in your soup? That's what one of the pictures in our restaurant menu showed last night.

Fish are served whole with neither the head nor tail removed.

Yes, in a country that has been known to cut off the heads of errent bureaucrats people are apparently too squeamish to chop off the head of a fish.

Popular here are the outdoor night markets. We went to one last night. Think of our Fiesta Mercados with ten times the number of food booths and you get the idea.

Popular at the markets is anything that can be stuck on a skewer including eel squid and octupus.

I nearly bought a stick of fried shrimp until I saw their beady little eyes looking at me. That was the deal breaker.

Reportedly scorpions and meal worms are also served up at some booths. I'm happy to report that there were no first hand sightings last night.

Although I'm not always thrilled with what's on the menu here I love the service in the restaurants. Menus are always presented by your server with two hands, not flung at you with the flick of the wrist the way the French so often do. Here it's menu not a frisbee.

When you are finished with your meal and ready to leave you have to ask for your check. And, there is no tipping.

While I'm not totally sold on Chinese cuisine I am impressed with their technology. Back home we can barely get decent cell phone reception in Montecito. Here you can apparently make and receive calls from atop The Great Wall. At least a couple of chatterboxes from Canton were doing just that when we visited there yesterday.

I'm uploading new photos from the trip every day. You can view them here.

Today (Wednesday) the plan is to go see Chairman Mao. His embalmed body, apparently as fresh as the seafood they serve here, is on view for the public every morning at his memorial in Tianimen Square.

Chop! Chop! for now.

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