Eating Abroad-My Food Experience in China

Fish in China

Eating the whole fish in Shenzhen, China

Chinese food has been a surprise to me. I expected differences, but sometimes eating while abroad is hard. I can imagine what it is like for foreigners who come to America looking for a plate full of home only being disappointed repeatedly.

The funny thing about food is that you can find what you want, but you may need to look far and wide. It is helpful to know other foreigners because it saves you time going from store to store looking for things that you may want. As I stated before, I find great comfort in knowing that I have bread and butter at my house. I can go into a restaurant and point to something on the menu and if it isn’t what I was expecting, I can go home and have some toast. As I am not following a strict diet, vegetarian/raw food/ vegan, etc. I figured it would be simpler to find food that meets our tastes. It has and it hasn’t been simple.

We eat a lot of meals that are rice and vegetables and sometimes chicken/fish/duck. But the difference is that it doesn’t have the familiar taste. For instance, I may eat eggplant. But it doesn’t taste like eggplant that I would cook. It has different spices. Or carrots and celery. It tastes like carrots and celery, but often it is with another type of meat, giving it a different flavor.

The other day, we went to eat at a western style chinese food restaurant. The girls with us mentioned something I had felt. “i just want chinese take out food that I am familiar with, sweet and sour chicken, orange chicken, lo mein.” I totally knew what she was feeling. Thankfully a few days later someone shared a local spot where the noodles and rice tasted like we were home. Bean said, “Let’s go there all the time when we want fried rice.” I agreed.

fried rice shenzhen

Fried Rice. Delicious!

There are places that really try to make good western food. I have been to several and am so happy when I get the menu, only to end up sorely disappointed. Spending so much time in Texas this summer, I crave the food. I want a good taco, a big plate of nachos or a really good burrito. I haven’t found it yet. One day, I sit eating a fish taco. That is, a taco shell filled with tuna fish and mayonnaise. I wonder if I should tell the chef and proprietor how to make a real fish taco. And then I don’t. Maybe this is the type of fish taco that Chinese people like. And what about my plate of chips and salsa? Why did they make a tomato salsa with sweet pickles? Maybe that was local taste too. I felt like crying, but instead I went next door to the gourmet grocery store and bought some pigs in the blanket and some good French butter.

I don’t have much to complain about. Really. So many things are just ALMOST right. There are many things that are perfectly done, but I am not one to eat at McDonald’s, Burger King and Pizza Hut. I think about all the foreigners who have gone west for school. No wonder they spend so much time in their rooms studying. If they go out, they will feel complete and total homesickness. Imagine eating three meals a day and not finding one that is familiar to what you have known all of your life. That is hard.

The people of this area eat soup with every meal. It is usually a broth like, clear soup. In all the Chinese restaurants that I have been too, I can not remember a soup like this. Egg drop or Wonton soup maybe. They must be miserable in the west.

Food ties us to home in ways we don’t expect. Even if I don’t miss much about the USA, there are comfort foods that I do miss. In that way, I am tied forever to the place where I was born.

4 Comments on “Eating Abroad-My Food Experience in China

    • If you are looking for variety and cooked vegan food, then yes. You might be living on toast. If you just want vegan and don’t mind raw, you would be fine.
      There are loads of fruit and vegetables available. I just don’t want to go raw.

  1. Sorry that went through twice, not sure how to delete one of the comments. Enjoying your blog!

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