When I tell people I’ve been to/am living in China, sometimes food comes up as a topic for discussion, the most common questions being:
- What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten and liked? Chicken hearts
- Have you ever eaten a spider on a stick? No
- What about a scorpion, or snake? No
- Have you eaten dog meat? I heard it’s popular in some Chinese towns. Not to my knowledge
The Chinese cuisine is varied according to the different provinces, and although there are dishes you’ll get anywhere in China, a lot of towns and provinces have their own specialities and their own twists on the national classics.
Anyway, today I fancied noodles, so I went into a small restaurant on campus, where I’ve had tomato and egg noodles before that were nice. I looked at the menu and decided to have the chicken and mushroom noodles. I paid my 8¥ (80p) and waited a short while. Soon enough, a large bowl of steaming hot noodles came out. As I carried my tray over to an empty table, I realised that something smelt like gravy… my noodles smelt like gravy.
I don’t like gravy. I think I’ve been traumatised by gravy every since that one time when I was younger when I went to my friend’s house for Sunday lunch and when everyone had finished eating, the gravy bowl was passed around the table and everyone had to drink a spoonful of it before passing it along. So to see my tasty noodles swimming in a bowl of thick gravy wasn’t a nice thought.
Nervously I dipped my spoon in the broth just to check I wasn’t imagining it all, but sure enough, all I could taste was thick, gloopy gravy. Normally when eating in China, either you go with friends and choose a few dishes to share, or you’ll go to the canteen and pick your own mini dishes of food so if you don’t like something, there’s always something else you can have instead. There’s always the standard bowl of plain rice too if you don’t like any of the dishes. With my noodles however, there was no escaping the gravy,
I picked up a bunch of noodles on my chopsticks and tried to shake the gravy off the noodles, but it didn’t work so I had to eat sloppy, gravy noodles for my lunch and it was definitely the worst meal I’ve had in China, ever. I thought back to when I was in Qingdao and can’t remember any meals I didn’t like there – even the chicken feet weren’t too bad.
What’s the worst meal you’ve had in China?