I Am in China and I Want to Eat Chinese Food

Fuzhou-2005-007
KFC and Pizza Hut together in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China

One of the things I looked forward to when we traveled to China was the opportunity to eat real Chinese food. I have my favorite Chinese restaurants here around home, but I knew before we got there that Chinese food in China would not be the same as Chinese food in America. With that thought in mind, the very first restaurant we saw in China, in Fuzhou, was a Pizza Hut. Our guide made sure to point that out to us. Just down the road from there we passed by a KFC. I do not eat at KFC in the U.S. so I knew I would not eat there in China – the main reason being I did not know what the ‘C’ stood for in the Chinese interpretation of edible food (much the same as the American interpretation of the same letter).

Later, we hit the mother lode. Up ahead as we drove through Fuzhou I glimpsed the ubiquitous icon of American fast food: the golden arches. Sure enough, we had stumbled upon a McDonalds – another place where I do not eat in America. I was almost ready to call off the entire trip in revulsion, but we had a child to adopt and that overrode calling off the trip just for the disgust of American fast food. However, had we seen a White Castle, I would have bolted for sure! Can you imagine the impact of White Castle food in China? We did not see one; therefore we continued with the adoption process.

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McDonald’s in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China

In Guangzhou, we ordered pizza from Danny’s Bagel Shop. I did not look at this being a compromise since Danny is a Chinese fellow who had lived in Chicago (I think it was Chicago) before moving back to Guangzhou and opening the Bagel Shop. His food was excellent and he delivered to the White Swan, where we stayed in Guangzhou. Some of the kids had sandwiches and spaghetti. Danny fixed the American foods in a Chinese sort of way – much the way that Chinese restaurants make Chinese food in an American sort of way. However, we did not order the special from Danny’s, which was tuna and shrimp pizza with pineapple and pine nuts. Some how, I did not get the Italian-feel from that combination.

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7-Eleven in Guangzhou, China

We fought our way past the fast food extensions into China and managed to find a few good places to eat authentic Chinese food everywhere we traveled in China. And it was all good. I still drew the line in Wuhan during our 2001 trip to adopt Jenna. The White Rose Hotel offered us a 20% discount at the hotel’s Korean restaurant. If you will check out the specials’ board (focus on the red section in the picture behind Jenna) you can probably understand why we did not eat at the Korean restaurant.

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Jenna in the lobby of the White Rose Hotel, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, November 2001

11 Comments

  1. I think though even the American restaurant in China, are within the context of American food for Chinese pallets. I think trying this food is just as interesting, as it’s a reinterpretation of tastes we know. Case and point, eating pizza from the grocery store Wu-Mart and being surprised to fine that the bread was sweet, the tomato sauce was a sweet mayonnaise and it was covered in corn. I don’t agree, but McDonalds mash potato on my burger wins.

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    1. I agree. The pizza we had was different but it was not bad. And American restaurants are okay in China, maybe though something better than McDonalds or KFC! (However, I would try mashed potatoes on a burger!)

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  2. Given the context of the trip, I can’t imagine much that would dissuade you from continuing.

    I think the Americanization of diets in other countries is a terrifying thing. Look at what that diet has done to Americans. We also do not eat at most of those places here.
    I don’t judge people for eating what’s available, but I have to admit, I’d probably shy away from having the Chow (bah dun sch!). (Sorry 🙂 )

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    1. Ha! I was just kidding about aborting the trip, but it struck me as very odd to see those restaurants! We did get some great opportunities to interact with the general population during our trips. And we did get to try out a few good Chinese creations to eat. But we did not eat any domestic animals – at least not knowingly!

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    1. We did not eat any dog meat on purpose. But there were a few times we ate some Chinese food where we were not really sure what it was made of. Overall, though, I found most Chinese food in China to be somewhat bland. That was undoubtedly a function of where we chose to eat.

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