When I first discovered I was coming to Chengdu, one of the first things I was told was that Sichuan (the province) is renown for its spicy food! This worried me slightly as I am the lemon-and-herb/mango-and-lime kinda customer at Nando’s, and I’ve also been known to add yoghurt to cool down curries and chilli con carnes… basically, I was a wuss with spices.
The locals in Beijing were also telling me that Sichuan food was too spicy for them, so I thought I’d stand no chance if the people here couldn’t even handle it! On our first night in Chengdu, the 3 of us went to a restaurant and tried hotpot. We each had a bowl to mix a liquid, garlic, and coriander together so that once the food had been cooked in the spicy hotpot, we could dip it in the bowl to cool it down. Luckily so far I’ve found in general that as long as you don’t eat the spicy peppercorns that are in the mix and don’t eat too much at once, the spice isn’t too overpowering!
The school that I just taught at were really kind to us and treated us out to lunch everyday instead of going to the canteen. Usually for lunch I just have something like a sandwich, but out here I’ve gotten used to bigger lunches! At most restaurants there’ll be a glass spinning wheel at the centre of the table, where various dishes (around 10) are placed and you pick from the middle. They serve most of the meat with bones left in and the protocol is to chew off the meat and then spit the bones onto the table/floor. However I have just been neatly placing them on my plate instead! Again, some of the food does have a kick to it where you suddenly need to take a drink, but luckily they are always topping up your glasses with tea or protein milk which solves the problem!
We are reguarly asked what our favourite Chinese foods are. Mine are dumplings, hotpot, and they serve whole fishes here in various sauces too which is soo good. I can’t help but think of all the differences in dining/eating between where I waitressed and China, but I’m looking forward to trying as many different foods as possible whilst I’m out here!