第四个星期的话题：Everything is Edible
I am posting on behalf of Emily, as WordPress is currently blocked in China. – Kelly Kesinger, UW Study Abroad
Prince Philip famously remarked that in Chinese (specifically Cantonese) cuisine, “If it has four legs and is not a chair, if it has two wings and flies but is not an airplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine,” it’s edible. I have heard Chinese people use this phrase themselves, too. Unlike in the U.S., where only select parts of an animal are used for cooking, most everything is utilized in Chinese dishes.
For example, one of my pictures this week is of a type of food we tried a week ago. The pot is put on a stove in the middle of the table, and a layer of vegetables is poured on the bottom, covered by a layer of meat. As you can see, the chicken that they put in is simply an entire chicken chopped into pieces. Head, feet, everything goes in.
Different areas of China also have different delicacies. Here in Sichuan, we have rabbit head. One of my American friends ate it here and said it was great, but none of the girls were particularly pleased when he brought one of the skulls back to the dorm to show off. Pig brain is also a favorite. Foreigners who want to avoid this one should look out for nao hua, or “brain flower,” as it’s called.
But not all the food is scary! I really like eating at “family style” restaurants, where you order several dishes and all share. Many restaurants in China are like this and have giant lazy susans in the center of all the tables. I think this is a really fun way to eat with people, as long as you have proficient chopstick skills and can handle the lazy susan getting spun away from you often. Dumplings are great, too, and there are a million rice and noodle choices.
Before I forget, you cannot discuss food in Sichuan without talking about hua jiao (Sichuan pepper). Sichuan cuisine is famous for having a curious flavor combination of hot and numbing. The numbing sensation comes from the hua jiao, which are all over practically every dish you order here. The numbness is actually less intense than I had anticipated, and the spiciness is easy to get used to. Overall, I think Sichuan food is great!