Charlen McNeil: Food!

Chinese food in Chengdu is very different from Chinese food in the states. So much so, that I’m not quite sure why we call the food back home Chinese. Here, the food has more flavor and so many different tastes in one bite. Unlike the Chinese food back home, which is either bland or too sweet and definitely not spicy (compared to the food here of course).  Also, they do not sell the same foods in Chengdu as they do Stateside. I remember asking the waitress for beef fried rice, and she looked at me like I was crazy. However, I have had a dish that is called twice fried pork! It is TO. DIE. FOR!

Although most of it is different, I am happy that I tried many kinds of food. One of the foods I have tried since I’ve been here is a dish known as “hotpot”. In Sichuan Province, the food is famous for being VERY spicy! To me hotpot is the spiciest thing I have ever tasted. Hotpot is basically 2 big pots, one filled with liquid and spice, the other with a sweet liquid. You are given a number of raw meats which you put into your flavor of choice (sweet for me please).  Once the food is done cooking, you take it out and enjoy!

The most interesting part about the food so far is what the people eat; for example, rabbit head. Rabbit/duck head is a normal snack here in Chengdu. This semester I am taking a class called Chinese Food and Culture, and last class we went to a place called Jinli Street where we tried many different foods, one of them being duck head. Trust me when I say it’s not as bad as it sounds.  I know it is very cliché, but it actually just tastes like a different kind of chicken. Duck head is not the only part of a duck I have tired. I have had duck leg, wing, and intestines. Sorry Donald Duck, but you are delicious.

Though I may be in China, that does not mean I am only eating Chinese food. We live in the international dorms here at the university. One Sunday night the students from India cooked a full course Indian dinner for us. It was also very good. And every now and then, I need to get my burger fix. No, I don’t go to McDonald’s. Normally my friends and I go to either Pete’s Tex-Mex or Grandma’s Kitchen for our burger fixes; both remind me so much of home!

A final thought: I thought that it would be much harder to use chopsticks, but after the first few days it became very simple. I like how it forces you to take smaller bites but you get full faster. In the States, we are used to a lot of food and being able to take big bites of everything, and we eat much more food than needed. I like chopsticks.

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