Chinese food as its known in the western world is generally based on food from the Guangzhou (Canton) province and Hong Kong (from where most of China’s emigrants originate). But even in Guangzhou, let alone in the rest of the country, the food is loads different, and better, than what most of us are used to back home. Trying to lump all the regional varieties under the one heading of Chinese food is like syaing there’s such a thing as European food and lumping pasta, bratwurst and frogs legs under the one umbrella. A few highlights are:
Beijing duck, aka Peking duck
Going to a decent Peking (the old-school name for Beijing) duck restaurant is a must-do. The duck will be carved at your table and served with a variety fo side dishes. You usually wrap the duck inside a little pancake and add condiments. Duck has its own unique and yummy flavour – it tastes nothing like chicken.
In the west of China, the province of Szechuan is home to a distinct culinary tradition. It’s usually associated with being hot n spicy (they love red chillies), but often just has a zesty tang, rather than a load of intense chilli heat.
The Chinese beer Tsingtao is a great drop. The Germans introduced the Chinese to beer, so the locally brewed stuff has decent heritage.
It’s over-generalising and doing a great disservice to the intricacy of Chinese cooking, but just about any meat (pork is always the best bet) fried in pan with some seasoning and vegies is going to taste good.
Wine and spirits
Baijiu (pronounced bye-jo) is a cheap, lethal spirit best avoided unless you want to get very messy very quickly. Rice wine is not a wine as westerns know it, and is meant for cooking, not drinking. And Chinese wine (of the made from grapes variety) should only be drunk in an emergency only.
With 1.3 billion mouths to feed the Chinese eat every part of the animal. Anyone for a plate of duck hearts or chicken’s feet, or some St Bernard puppy? While this sounds gross you’ve probably eaten the same back home (except the dog) in sausages and meat pies. Seriously, most restaurants have English menus, making it easy to avoid random strange dishes.