It seems impossible to talk about China without mentioning food that is part of the culture and of great importance to the Chinese.
First, Chinese food has nothing to do with what we can find in our Western Chinatown restaurants. For instance in two months spent in China I have not seen - or tasted ! - one single spring roll!
Also be aware that, like in South America, the Chinese eat EVERYTHING that is edible in the animal : chicken feet , heart, guts ... you eat ALL you possibly can!
Most of the time when you eat at a local Chinese restaurant it is a bit like eating in someone's home and showing what you want in the fridge!
Also in China people don't order food for themselves but to share with everyone else at the table. All dishes ordered are brought in the middle of the table so everyone can help themselves. This is a great way to taste everything!
At the beginning of my stay I ate a lot of noodle soups and rice because they are simple dishes to order and it is usually a guarantee not to have - bad - surprises. Indeed, the language barrier is particularly problematic as it comes to food as menus are not always translated into English and often do not have any illustrations that could give clues about their content. But it would be a shame to go to China and eating only noodles and rice as Chinese food is extremely varied, a bit like in France where each province has its own specialty .
Here is a tiny glimpse of the food that I encountered during my trip to China , Bon Apetit !
Tofu : It is not possible to avoid it as the Chinese love it! it is found absolutely everywhere and in different forms. For example, in Jianshui (Yunnan ) locals cook tofu balls on the barbecue. In Changsha (Hunan ) Rebecca `a Chinese I met through Couchsurfing encouraged me to try the "stinky tofu " that bears his name but is delicious! After all, if you give cheese to a Chinese he/she will certainly tell you that it stinks before enjoying its flavour ! My favourite is the crispy tofu that I had the opportunity to eat only once in Beijing.
Dumplings : One of my favourite snacks in China ! You will often find them served on the street and they are extremely cheap. They can be boiled but I find them even better when they are steamed as you get like a ball of bread around meat stuffed inside. Sometimes served with soy sauce, delicious!
Chinese hotpot : Unlike our fondues, Chinese hotpot is mainly based on fish and vegetable. Also they do not use oil but a broth that has different flavour. You find it everywhere so do not miss the opportunity to treat yourself with a delicious meal!
Beijing duck : Duck meat is both tender and tasty. You can find it everywhere in China, but it is especially renowned in the capital where you will find a large number of restaurants serving the famous Beijing duck.
Dog meat : I should specify that all Chinese to whom I expressed my curiosity and desire to try dog meat were all horrified. It seems that only some parts of China eat dog meat and especially the older generation. I tasted it in a local market in Yangshuo (Guangxi ) at the end of my stay. I must say that I was rather disappointed by the texture of the meat not so tender with a lot of bones. In contrast with the preparation of garlic and ginger which was delicious . This meal was by far the most expensive of my two months in China , 60 yuans.
Noodles : In China come in all shapes and textures you can possibly imagine like tofu. They are most often served in a broth. Guilin noodles (Guangxi ) - Mifen - are served with peanuts and lot of meat while Xian noodles (Shaanxi ) - biang biang mian - are characterized by their shape: they are particularly thick and also served with meat. A bowl of noodles costs between 10 and 15 yuans.
Eat in Hong Kong : The best meals I had during the last three months were undoubtedly in Hong Kong where you can find a wide selection of high quality Chinese food – both Chinese and international. Expensive food for China's standards but slightly cheaper than our European capitals. During my time in the city I particularly remember a great Japanese meal I had with delicious suchis accompanied with the famous wasabi hot sauce which leads you nose!