I recently had the pleasure of visiting a the City of Zhuhai located in China, near the Island of Macau. I have always wanted to learn more about the Chinese culture & in particular I have been excited to experience their food. I was not disappointed!
I was fortunate enough to be there on a business trip with my husband, where we were hosted in a traditional way, which was a an amazing experience. I ate lots of local Chinese food over the time that we were there, which is nothing like the Chinese food that we buy from a Chinese restaurant here is Australia, there was no sweet & sour pork in sight! It was quite difficult navigating a ‘real food’ lifestyle while I was there, so I just relaxed a little & enjoyed the experience.
The breakfast buffet was wonderful because it was full of meats & vegetables, although I did navigate my way around the ‘Cold Pig Ear Salad’! That didn’t really appeal to me for breakfast or anytime really! Lunches were similar to dinners, we were served lots of soups, meat & vegetables with sides of sweet buns & dumplings, all dishes where on a large lazy susan for everyone to share. It was a little bit like a wheel of fortune or misfortune depending on what dish landed in front of you!
The dishes were made with fresh vegetables, meats, seafood & herbs. The food was not spicy but full of wonderful fresh local flavors. I tried a few exotic ingredients that I had never tried before like Chinese Wolfberry, Lotus Root, Snow Fungus & Sea Urchin. Chinese use all parts of the animal, they love organ means (even for breakfast) & it appeared that they do not waste what can be eaten, such as the pigs ears or duck tongues. Yes I even tried duck tongue…. unknowingly.
The best experience was attending a formal Chinese Banquet, not just for the food, but the customs as well. During the meal we were served 9 small dishes, all of which were interesting & tasty. There was a mix of salad, soup, rice, meat & seafood followed by one dessert that was not overly sweet.
The banquet started with a creamy grouper soup, which had amazing flavors. We were then served other small dishes including, salad with a beautiful swan made from carrots on the side of the plate, chicken soup, fermented vegetables, steak, whole small steamed fish, sweet bun with walnuts, dumplings and the most impressive dish was a sea urchin dish. This was served in a whole sea urchin with the spikes & all, the meat of the sea urchin was in the bottom of the shell with a layer of savory egg custard on the top.
We finished with dessert, which is pictured. It was a Snow Fungus & Wolfberry Soup. Snow fungus is a white type of mushroom that has many health benefits. The texture of the soup was that of runny jelly with a slightly sweet flavor & it was served warm. It was very interesting & quite different to what we have for dessert here in Australia.
If you love food & you ever get the chance to go to China, then you are really in for a treat! It was a wonderful food experience & quite different to what I expected.