I cook most days and immerse myself in the culture elsewhere.
One of the biggest hurdles I faced when moving to China was the food. It sounds ridiculous, I know.
I’ve always been a fussy eater, having never really tried eggs, fish, tea.. the list goes on and on. I like the food I like (mainly carbs) – you know, potatoes and bread based foods. I could eat garlic bread for DAYS. So moving to China, I had quite a shock.
‘Where is the pizza?’
‘Why doesn’t my local store have bottled water?’
‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY DON’T SELL CHEESE?!’
Instead, I have been greeted with chicken feet, battered ducks neck, and so many tales of dog meat. ”This isn’t for me” I repeatedly think when I walk down streets with the strong smell of eastern cuisine. I’ll take off my hat everyday to people who can just jump in and try the delicacies, but it’s just something I couldn’t get past!
I packed a whole suitcase of home comforts when I came to China; a few Heinz beans tins, some cheese sauce so I could make lasagne, and Bel-vita breakfast bars – to name a few. I cook most days and immerse myself in the culture elsewhere.
As for the price of a dinner in Xiangyang, it’s beyond belief. For £1, Joel and I could get a dish to share, and an extra 20p gets you a bottle of Chinese beer as well. Bargain. That brings me nicely to my new found appreciation of beer. Cider in China is few and far between, especially in a third tier city like Xiangyang – you might find a bottle in one of the few bars but draught cider isn’t a thing. Hence, I have had to start being a beer girl – it’s either that or £2.50 buckets of whiskey and coke (this worked at the start but I’m still the lightweight I was when I started University).
Having said this, Joel and I regularly have takeaway foods for dinner, it is the norm here. And it’s obvious to see why – their food is considered delicious and it is so inexpensive that it may actually cost you more to cook for yourself. I stick more to dishes that aren’t so unusual to me, such as beef noodles and Katsu curry type meals – and they are great.
Now, I am sure that Chinese food is delicious, it is world renowned. However, with my western tastebuds and unwillingness to immerse myself in different food cultures, I have struggled to acclimatise in that way. I wholeheartedly recommend that if anyone is considering coming to China, they should jump in as deep as they can! Just be aware that Chinese food isn’t exactly like the Chinese takeaways you get back home.
So there it is, I tried to try Chinese food but my stubbornness got the better of me… it’s such an experience being here and living in China, even without enlightening my tastebuds, it is one that I will always remember and appreciate.