Chinese food isn’t Chinese food
I met a Chinese person last week. Not a big deal, there are more than a billion of them and plenty living in London. But in doing so I learned something weird. Chinese food isn’t Chinese food.
I was telling her about my favourite Chinese dishes from the local takeaway (she started this chat by telling me how much she loves British pub food) and she proceeded to tell me that egg fried rice and sweet and sour chicken balls are about as far away from what a Chinese person would cook as Beijing is from London. In fact, loads of what we eat at ‘Chinese’ restaurants is a nonsense it turns out.
This is not easy news to hear. I’m going to China for their New Year (Jan 31) and was looking forward to eating food similar to my takeaway food but 500 times better. But that’s not what I’m going to find.
An open mind is required if I want to eat like a local she warned. Luckily this is my forte so the disappointment didn’t last long. If I haven’t put something different in my mouth when I go somewhere exotic it doesn’t feel like I’ve been away at all.
This New Year will see China waving bye bye to the year of the snake and saying hello to the year of the horse. I prefer horses to snakes so it’s a double celebration as far as I’m concerned.
The main decision left is where to spend the big night. I’ll be going to Chengdu to see the baby pandas and perhaps attempt to smuggle one home (have you ever seen anything so cute?!).
But as cute as they are I’m not convinced a panda will be great company for a party.
Aside from Chengdu I’ve got Beijing, the Forbidden City, dinner on the Great Wall, Shanghai, Tongxiang where I’ll stay in some Ming and Qing townhouses, the National Forest Park of Zhangjiajie where Buddhist hermit monks hang out… the incredible list goes on.
The more I read about each place the more I want to spend New Year there. It turns out China isn’t just where stuff gets made.
Here you can see the various places I’ll be staying and you’ll start to understand why I can’t decide where to be on January 31.
I would love to hear where you would choose to celebrate Chinese New Year. Perhaps it’ll help me decide!