Wednesday, June 2, 2010

chandni chowk to china

flight attendant "sir what would you like to have for dinner"
I "what are the choices"
flight attendant "veg food or normal food"

i knew that i was heading in the right direction. for the next few days i will survive only on normal food.

next six hours will take me far enough from the kebbabs of karim's to the land unknown. to a language unknown. only thing that made me feel safe was that the food will be normal, nothing will be vegetarian about it. be it the donkey meat or the solid blood of duck. it was amazing what all came on my plate and ended up in my tummy, i would have been happy enough to write down the names and ingredients of all of them. just that the language was a bit to alien for me to know what exactly was there on my plate.

the first day was a bit of an issue. to eat with chopsticks was a pain for me, anyways i let go of the embarrassment and put my fingers to optimum use on the table.

next day onwards i made sure of carrying a fork all the time with me. that proved to be my most important weapon during the trip to beijing. to get the dumplings out of the soup or picking the meat out of the wok all those wars where won by the help of the mighty fork.

along with the food a bit of delicate chinese tea was always welcoming. and the way they prepare and serve tea is almost like a ritual. the love and respect for the process is outstanding. little cups as in really little cups would be filled with tea, little enough to be poured with a sip of transparent, mild fragrant tea. tea would be served time and again. whether it's tea at a posh restaurant or sitting with the cab drivers and sharing tea with them, all the time it would be refreshing and elating.

the other interesting liquid coming on the table would be baijiu it's simply 38% alcohol made by fermenting rice. the first neat gulp tastes like drinking liquefied fire by the next gulp your mind and body gets acclimatised to it. the beauty of baijiu is not just about how it tastes but also about the beautiful ceramic bottles in which they come to the table. these bottle will generally be earthy in colour with the names in chinese calligraphy, it would be foolish to leave behind the empty bottles. they would make excellent souvenirs from china. well i managed to carry back two such bottle in my bag.

overall rating would be 10/10 for people who are passionate about food without bothering to know what it is. it's pointless to waste time in cracking the ancient chinese codes to know the name of the bird or animal or the egg on your platter. rather just eat and enjoy the moment. eat as much as you can as you are running out of time, soon there is flight to catch back to chandni chowk.

four days of normal food and i am back to my real life.

back to gurgaon.

sitting on my book shelf are the empty ceramic bottles remind me of the drizzling, the small restaurant overlooking the great wall, the beef curry, the over boiled rice, the pork fry, the over eating, the joy...
...all this is now fills up those ceramic bottle. the alcohol is no more in the bottle but the spirit of chinese food will remain there tightly locked in those little bottles.

the reddish cubes in the front are solid duck blood ready to be heated in spiced oil and eaten.

no clue what they are but the taste was really good and price was really cheap, all this in a road side shop in a hutong.

tea with the bunch of drivers and workers.

never knew of so many varieties of eggs that too being sold as food product (lack of knowledge).


Amer said...

The Forbidden City is beckoning me...You have incited a desire hard to suppress

Ezra said...

You're making me miss China! Especially the tea in tiny cups... Personally, I struggled with eating "normal" food since I really wanted to eat veg. Usually I would ask them for "no meat" then get something with little meat bits in it. When questioned, they would deny it was "really meat". But still... China,

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Edgar Powell said...

It look's like you are enjoying the chinies foods..

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