Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fun with Food

For the first week that I was in Hong Kong,  I was pretty convinced that I would wither away to nothing. At the very least,  I thought that I would lose a decent amount of weight and look super good by the time I went home. Part of this was my concern about not liking the food in Hong Kong and the other part had to do with the drunk-like stupor that I was in for my first few days here.

Let me tell you, I had some pretty bad jetlag. After the meeting with our boss the day after we arrived, the other two girls and I thought we would do something interesting our first weekend. Nope. Well, we did eventually end up doing something, but the first few days consisted of sleeping during the strangest hours of the day and not so much at night. The root of the problem is the 12 hour time difference from home, which is really as inconvenient as it gets. The amount of energy it took to even log onto my computer to check for emails from the other two was often more than I could muster. 

We found a grocery store in a mall that sold some decent bread, which was awesome. The problem is we all bought some bread there as well. Due to lack of energy and proper kitchen supplies, we all ate pretty much nothing but bread in between long fits of slumber. To be honest, I wasn't even that hungry because I was just too darn tired to eat. It was then that I really began to wonder what I was doing here. I knew I would never last like this. After finally getting a grain of energy, we eventually decided to venture out and explore more of the city.

Since then, I've also become a lot more adventurous with food. I need to be honest here: I rarely ever ate, and even more rarely ever liked, Chinese food in the US. Of course, that didn't stop me from moving to China, but I knew it might be an uphill battle. Since getting here, I've had my fair share of really awesome food, and some food that I rather not have again. But, come to find out, I might like Chinese food way more than I ever thought I would. And I'm practically a pro with chopsticks by now. Well, sortof. Needless to say, I don't think I'll have to worry about withering away anymore. Although  I do need to start getting more adventurous and start differentiating my own cooking.

Grocery shopping is always a challenge for me because I'm the most indecisive person in the world. Shopping in Hong Kong is a whole new ballgame. Going to the closest grocery store the first couple of times has been a real adventure. Walking in, all you can smell is the Durian, possibly the worst smelling fruit in the world. While I haven't tried it yet,  I heard that the worst it smells, the better it tastes. I'll have to take their world for it. 

Let me tell you, though, it's not the most appetizing way to walk into a grocery store. After checking out different parts of Hong Kong, I have slowly begun to find some of my favorite grocery stores. I like the frozen chicken in one store, the fish in another store, the vegetables in another store, bread from this one bakery, etc. You definitely don't have to worry about being a brand snob when you don't have a clue what most of the brands even are. It's times like that that price wins out, almost every time. I even have been able to find some decent cheese sections in a couple of stores. The fact that cheese isn't as popular here as I deem it should be all over the world was a bit off-putting at first, but I've been learning to adapt. Such is life. I even found some Chinese spinach that I like and some other strange sort of green vegetable I've never seen before. It appears to be some sort of hybrid between spinach, asparagus, and broccoli. 
That other vegetable thingy

Chinese Spinach

Going out to eat has been a bit hit-or-miss as well. Part of the issue is that a lot of the Cantonese food seems to have some sort of sweetness to it, which doesn't really work for me. It is also customary to order a variety of dishes that everyone at the table shares, as if you were at home. This is good because you can try more things, but can also be dangerous when some people have slightly (or sometimes drastically) different tastes than me. There have been some awesome things that I tried though, like fried noodles, some dim sum, and some forms of curry. But that's not interesting. Instead, I'll tell you some of the more interesting stories...

Cuttlefish Ball Soup
There was the adventurous meals with people from the university that involved things like century eggs. They're black by the way, which no self-respecting egg should ever be. There was also some type of tofu pudding that apparently masks itself as a dessert, as does the bean pudding/soup thingy. Again, not my thing.

Before I came here, my grandpa told me (obviously misinformed) that everything in China is made of seaweed. Well, that's not true. However, they do have seaweed flavored potato chips and seafood seasoning for your "shake shake" fries at McDonalds.  I have had seaweed multiple times since I've been here. One of the more interesting times was in the Cuttlefish Ball Soup. I thought it sounded pretty yummy when I was at a Taiwanese restaurant. I mean, I usually like fish. It was actually pretty good... until I realized how un-fishlike cuttlefish actually are.  Take a look.  

Now THIS is a cuttlefish. Yum.
After this little googling frenzy, I also came across this gem of a video. This cuttlefish has its head cut off but still reacts to soy sauce. I haven't actually seen this in Hong Kong, but it is truly terrifying.

This picture doesn't do it justice. I promise.
Another great adventure was the ox tongue. I saw it on the menu at a restaurant called The Curry House and we all thought it sounded like a great idea. Nope; it's not. I don't know if you can tell from this picture how gross it is. But I assure you that it wasn't great. It was super chewy and had a really bad taste, but the worst part was the texture. I felt like the ox was licking me. I could see that taste buds on the piece of meat and knowing that I was eating a tongue made it all too real. I won't be doing that again.

There's also a lot of wet markets where you can wander around outside to buy things like meats and groceries. After seeing all of the chicken feet and chicken liver for sale, I have been a bit hesitant to show there on my own. I hope to slowly work up courage, but I don't want to rush into anything. 

All in all, there has been a lot of great food that I've tried and loved in Hong Kong. Some was better than others, but I always look forward to trying new things because it's part of the adventure. Hey, even if I get sick, it'll make for a great story...eventually.

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