Travel Diary: An American in China, 9

July 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am back in Houston and I am exhausted!

Here’s the most important lesson I’ve learned from all my travels: nothing, nothing, NOTHING in the world can compare with your own bed. I’m about to just glue myself into it and not get up for three days.

We left Nanjing around noon one day, gallivanted around beautiful Vancouver the next, and finally arrived at home, sweet, home 6 in the morning. Mmmm, I’m just so blissful now that I’m home.

But, guess what? There’s still (a lot) more I have to show you from China! I’m gonna finish up Beijing, hopefully post up a few more Nanjing ones later, and then some Shenzhen posts tomorrow. I’m leaving for San Francisco on Monday for three weeks, so lots to talk about and not so much time at all.

Beijing is known for many things. Among them, is the culinary masterpiece of Peking duck. So yum. Through a complicated behind-the-scenes procedure, a duck becomes perfectly crispy and roasted, yet tender and succulent. Then, the duck is brought out into the dining hall to be cut, which is an art form in itself. The duck meat is wrapped in little pancakes and dipped in sauce. It’s bones are sometimes deep-fried, sometimes used to make soup, whichever one prefers. Finally, the remaining organs are made into other delicacies. The most famous Peking duck restaurant is called Quanjude. Lookie, this is it:

Duck meat! Crispy skin + tender meat= the ideal Peking duck.

Okay, now get ready for the piece de resistance: duck butt. Yes, you heard me right. Duck butt. It doesn’t look like much and sounds even less appetizing, but the instant you put one of those little slivers in your mouth, you’ll never look back. The duck butt is the fattiest part of the duck, so the second it touches your tongue, it literally melts. It melts all buttery and you end it with a crunch. People will seriously fight over the last piece.

Here it is (this is duck meat, not duck butt which you eat by itself)! The trick in making a duck pancake is to put only one or two thin slices in each one. This way, the flavor will explode. Boooom!

Beijing is also known for its dumplings. I heart them. The only two fillings Quanjude offers are duck heart and duck tongue. Well, then. We picked the duck heart dumplings. The verdict? It’s… interesting. It’s definitely an acquired taste, sharp with a cilantro and parsley flavor and the texture is sort of grainy from the heart. The dumplings were really pretty good, but just not for me.

We polished off all that food real nice. Here we are with the remainders: plates and a bit of duck bone soup. Oh, yes, the duck bone soup- it sounds pretty drastic, but it’s very bland and just tastes like water. Whatever water tastes like 🙂

The large plaque on the fifth floor. I think there were at least seven floors at the Hepingmen location, which is only like one of a million available locations. Beware: it’s relatively expensive, but well worth the price in my opinion.

The next day, me and the mama bear decided to pay a visit to Tiananmen Square. The Forbidden City was just a street away, beckoning for me to explore some more, but we had to go to lunch (food takes precedence, after all).

This is my, “it’s getting kinda crowded and I’m kinda hungry, can we go find my older half and stuff ourselves?” face.

And so, we went to the food court of the New Century Mall at Wangfujing, found a noodle place and ateeeeeeee. This green monster is what I chose, and it was one of the best meals I had this time (which is ironic since it’s so cheapo compared to some of the other stuff I stomached). It’s spinach-infused (healthy! ;)) with egg and tomato sauce and it’s just the right amount of salty and sweet. Oh, the noodles were sooo good and doughy since it was hand-rolled. Hand-rolled noodles are unbeatable.

For dessert…

We shared some red bean ice. A pretty common dessert, it’s just shaved ice with red beans and coconut sauce. It’s extremely sugary and creamy, but it’s pretty good and refreshing, especially during the heat wave we experienced. My favorite shaved ice is still mango, though, which I will share with you very, very soon!

Off to nap off some jet lag,

C

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