Foodie Overseas: China

I’m Sam. A second-year History student who’s going to be studying in China for a semester as of January 2015. For me, the most exciting part of the trip, more than the chance to visit a new country and the thousands of years of history, is the food. My current knowledge of Chinese food doesn’t extend much beyond ‘Prawn Toast’ and ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’, so I’m looking forward to finding tasty and potentially weird food. I might get sick of rice, I’ll probably get sick from street food, and there’s a chance I’ll try dog.

I don’t know that much about actual Chinese food, so I’m pretty excited to find out what kind of ingredients and flavours are used, compared to takeaways or supermarkets in England. Just like how Tikka Masala is a bastardised version of traditional Bengali dishes, I’m guessing that dishes I think I know will be much more flavourful. Presumably the little jars of LIDL stir-fry sauce that add plenty of sugar and preservatives to my noodle-heavy student diet aren’t used by the billion people who know what they’re doing.

The little I do know is from ‘Huang’s World’, a food and travel YouTube series that stars hip-hop-inspired American-Chinese chef, Eddie Huang. The programme is funny and makes an effort to show local and unique dishes cities across the world. His episode in Shanghai is really interesting: Eddie exhibits knowledge from local guides to show how local cultures have impacted local food, such as red pork.

One dish that I really want to try is soup dumpling: steamed dough parcels filled with meat and broth that (Wikipedia tells me) are common around Shanghai. I’m not sure how common they’ll be in Ningbo, where the Nottingham University campus is, but they look like they’d make a nice alternative to the small quantity of Weetabix I plan to smuggle into the country.

Over the next few months, during the many hours procrastinating and visiting different cities, I plan to try as many different dishes as possible and report back on my foodie findings, wonderful or otherwise.

Samuel Bray

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