October 20, 2015
No blog on China would be complete without a discussion about food. Ask for travel advice from any Chinese friend and it will include a rapt description of their favourite food from a region. “Oh you must go to…, as they have THE most delicious…, in all of China! “. So we have been diligently, and quite happily, sampling our way through the various local delicacies.
What has intrigued me most, however, has been our Chinese friends’ delight in the ‘wholeness‘ of their food, and the coordination and skill required to eat it. Where is the nutrition and where is the fun if the shells, bones, heads, feet, tails, have already been removed? A friend in Shanghai taught me how to remove the shell/head/tail from my shrimp or prawn without using my hands – only my chopsticks and tongue/teeth. Though I have yet to achieve her level of practiced dexterity, I have to admit it has been fun trying!
She also has little interest in ‘just meat’ (e.g. a boneless, skinless chicken breast), saying that it lacks flavour, is less nutritious, and way less fun. Give her the chicken neck or feet any day. Our friends in Qingdao told us that the Chinese prefer to cook their fish with the head/tail/bones all included – and are amazingly skillful at removing these bones with only chopsticks and teeth/tongue.
It made me think about the current rage of ‘bone broth’ in North America – the expensive new elixir of the rich and famous – and I can’t help but wonder how this would be viewed from the Chinese perspective –from the land where bone broth is part of most meals!