Thursday, May 28, 2009
The Food Of Guangzhou Part One
When I got back from Guangzhou I got the same question from my friends.
Here is a quick account of Guangzhou's food.
At first, when the passport agency suggested that I just eat McDonald's in Guangzhou, I thought, "man forget you! I'm going to China, I will max out on Chinese food all the time."
After about three days in Guangzhou, I was ready for a Big Mac. Why you ask? Well, you'll see.
The first day I woke up at lunch time and was ready for a good Chinese meal. Candy, being from Hunan, decided to take me to a Hunan restaurant first.
We walked through the torrential Guangzhou rain and found a Hunan restaurant with huge windows that looked out on the city. Guangzhou does not get much rain and the way the streets flood I believe it. Guangzhou and Phoenix have that in common, the way the streets can get all flooded out in a hurry during a big rain storm.
The menu was completely written in Chinese characters. Candy would tell me what I was looking at we would make selections together.
Some advice I have gotten is to chose entirely based on pictures but I believe you should get some clarification before ordering.
I pointed at more than one picture that I thought was beef that Candy told me was guts or goat face or whatever. Be careful or be adventurous, it's your call.
The first dish I ordered was a spicy Hunan chicken dish. The waitress said, "are you sure, this dish is very spicy."
Being a stupid arrogant Arizonan I said, "Bring it on. I'm from Arizona see, I put hot sauce on my Cap N' Crunch."
First off the chicken served was every part of the chicken: the breast, the neck, the gristle, the bones, etc.
The way you are supposed to eat chicken is to put the whole piece in our mouth and swirl it about and get the bones out. Then you are to eat the meat and spit the bones out on the garbage plate. At first, I loaded up Candy's plate with food and then said told me that the plate is for the refuse. The tiny rice bowl is for the good food. Often, Chinese people will just eat off the serving plate and it's customary to feed your date.
Ok, back to the chicken. Not only was it hot but this chicken was the hottest food I've ever had in my entire life. It was supernova-red-Hades-burning-holes-in-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot!
After the sweating and the panting began, Candy reassured me, "you don't have to eat that if you don't want to."
This wasn't like the time Scott and I had a bucket of habanero wings. Where the food was hot but it was our mission to put those wings to rest.
I found it difficult to separate the meat from the bone with my mouth in a four alarm fire.
Candy showed me a picture of what looked like a wagon wheel and told me it was lotus root. She assured me that lotus root was delicious. The root has a snap to it and has little spider webs come out when you break a piece off. It helped with the heat of the chicken but made me feel like I was on Star Trek.
Next, Candy ordered the delicious green bean and eggplant stir fry dish. I think of all the food I had in Guangzhou this dish was my favorite. Later, I had a version of this dish at another Hunan restaurant with potato in place of the eggplant. I ate almost of of this dish.
Of course one of the world traveler's best friends other than beer is of course good ol' Coca Cola.
If your MTV shirt doesn't tell your new friends you are American, the fact that you chug-a-lug the Coke will!
I love Coke and really everyone does. Even Joe Strummer has a coke in the Combat Rock picture on the inside cover.
In China, Coca Cola translates out to "to make mouth happy." During the trip I often exclaimed that coke was making my mouth happy, much to Candy's embarrassment/my amusement.