Yes, that’s right. I figured I’d need to make a separate post from a culinaristic point of view. First of all: What you think is Chinese food probably isn’t even close to “real” Chinese food. Observations:

  1. Chinese people never eat anything deep-fried. They stir-fry things sometimes, though.
  2. Chinese people very seldom eat rice. (These two things, fried stuff and rice, are usually what people are thinking about when they exclaim “I just love Chinese food!!” The truth is, in China, people eat neither.)
  3. Chinese people don’t really eat dairy products. The only exception is milk tea, which is available in all kinds of varieties.
  4. Chinese people don’t eat bread. Some don’t even know what bread is (mostly older people) and Chinese homes don’t have ovens. This means they don’t bake anything, either.
  5. Chinese people are snackers. They snack on healthy foods such as dried fruit, grains, seeds and nuts.
  6. Chinese food — real Chinese food — is actually healthy. It’s designed to purge your digestive system and sweat out humidity, high temperature and toxins (this is why some regional cuisines, such as the Sichuan cuisine, use a lot of spices) and to raise your vibration levels.
  7. Chinese people rarely eat processed or canned foods. They use a lot of raw materials, ie. stuff from local farmers which they buy at outdoor markets. Some supermarkets don’t even sell meat, fish or vegetables, because people buy them from outdoor markets.
  8. The canteen system seems to work based on a capitalist principle. Every canteen building is like a market hall, with table rows placed in the middle, and with different food company stalls along the sides. Students stroll along the sides, looking at the food on offer, and choose something they like. There is fierce competition going on between some of the food vendors. A proper meal can cost as little as 6 yuan, or about 90 cent/one US dollar.

Be warned in advance: you are going to see things that may make you suffer from severe borborygmus. Here you are:

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The 7,5€ vegetarian dream in Beijing.

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The canteen closest to my dorm. Here you can see how the system works.

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You’d better have a good grasp of Mandarin, if you want something specific. 😀

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What you get for 6 yuan. The can looks deceptively small in the picture. There was 500 g of rè gán mìan in there.

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One of the booths in the canteen.

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Snack heaven at the local market. Yes, the prices are in yuan, not in euros/dollars/pounds!

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When you go randomly strolling in the local food district, you will find many interesting things there, among them fried sea cucumbers and bamboo shoots. Food can be like a form of art here.

Today was a special day. I saw some of my family members, who have come to visit me here in Wuhan. Since this city is a new conquest for me as well, we will spend some days getting to know it and its ways. As I slept, they were making their way over the Gobi desert. I was to meet them at the Westin, where they are staying at the bank of the Yangtze river, and that’s where I went, heartily looking forward to see my immediate family again. The time apart will feel longer for them, I suppose, and I feel like haven’t even really started my journey yet!

There are many people at the grand concourse, and there are guards and police officers patrolling the gates. Sirens wail, and I’m alone in an unfamiliar place. I wait in the hall. And there, suddenly, among a sea of dark heads, I see a familiar face, a familiar Western face, a woman’s face. I haven’t met another Western woman for one month, and I rush towards her, ignoring the guards’ attempts to control my movement. We hug and kiss and there’s a sense of relief. With moist eyes, Mum tells me “My girl, my brave girl. It is good to see you.” We walk away together from the bustling crowd, and start preparing for the upcoming days’ adventure.

Mili

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