Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eating in Chengdu

I have done well on this trip up to now with being able to order in restaurant. Twice I have had a complete Chinese menu with no pictures and someone that did not speak English. Both times I picked something based on price and both of these times I ended up with a chicken dish that was good. The 2nd time I could not have done any better if I knew what I was ordering the chicken dish was really spicy and I thought it was wonderful. I also use the 2 words in Chinese that I have learned that come in really useful, rice and beer. I figure if everything is uneatable at least I have rice and beer.

My good record of being able to order came to an end in Chengdu. I had all kinds of problems ordering something to eat. I walked into a place that serves something that is called a “Hot Pot”. I had read about it in the book and really wanted to try it. It is a pot of really spicy oils and you order food to cook in this spicy oil. I had no idea how to pick the things to put in the oil. I pointed to some things on the order form and when I said my 2 words beer and rice it appears that I had already pointed to a beer. After some laughing the wait staff finally took pity on me and sort of suggested things and I would just nod yes. The pot they gave me had 2 sides. 1 side hot and the other not hot or at least I think so. I started on the hot side and could not really tell after that if the other side was hot or not since my mouth was basically on fire from that point on. The wait staff seemed to find me really funny and would sort of show me how to cook the stuff in the oil and what I should not put in the oil. One thing that sort of drives me crazy is they seem to watch while I am eating. I just can’t seem to get use to being stared at while I am eating. I did enjoy this spicy meal but don’t think it was the best thing I have had in China. I may try it again when I know what I am ordering. I had finished eating and was drinking my beer and out came the cameras. I had my picture taken with most of the staff and took a picture of what remained of the meal.

The following day I decided I did not want to try the hot pot again so went to the place next door. This place also had burners on the table. Damn, I thought and thought about turning around and leaving but decided what the heck, I will give it a try. It turned out at least this place had a menu with pictures. All the pictures were of soup so guess what, I ordered the soup. I got a bowl of soup that could feed an army. I also had other stuff that I think was not suppose to go into the soup. I also had the help of the wait staff in this place and was watched the whole time. They filled the little soup bowl I was suppose to eat from and when I took what I thought was a green onions from the big soup bowl and was about to eat it they stopped me. There was chicken at the bottom of the big soup bowl and they would dish it out for me. I did not find the chicken good at all. It was mostly fat and bones and ended up leaving a lot of it. I also had stuff that I think was cheese and something that I would say was closest to French toast with a red syrup that had a little bit of heat. There were also these noodle looking things that I think were made from cabbage. I could never manage pick up these noodle looking things with the chop sticks and even when they brought me a fork I could not seem to get much. I did not get my picture taken in this place but took a picture prior to eating too much.

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