I Went to China..and This is What I Ate

Chinese food is the second most common take-out food across the United States, with nearly 41 thousand locations to choose from. However, what many Americans don’t know is that some of their favorite Chinese dishes don’t even exist in China. Popular favorites such as Crab rangoons, General Tso’s chicken, Orange chicken, Egg rolls, Sweet n’ sour pork, Lo Mein, even fortune cookies and the classic Chinese take out box all originated within the United States, not even existing within China (1). I first handedly got to experience real Chinese cuisine, on my month-long voyage to Shanghai, Xi’an, and Beijing. Here are some of my favorite and most unique dishes that I had come across.

Thousand-year-old tea: Shanghai

Tea ceremonies have been routed in Chinese culture since 2737 B.C when tea was used primarily only for medical reasons (2). Even now, many gather to practice in old rituals and enjoy small hot cups of traditional tea. During tea ceremonies, you are given a small portion of tea in a tall cup, in which you then place the wider cup upside down on top, and flip it over to accurately mix the greens. Just like how it is polite to eat everything in China under three bites, same goes for tea. No matter the temperature outside, it is considered polite to finish your hot tea in three sips or less.  

Street meat: Beijing

Although advised by all tour guides, not to try street meat for sanitary reasons, I had to for China is known for its variety of street vendors. Different shapes and forms of raw meat where placed on trays attracting flies on the streets. Old water bottles filled with spices would be drizzled on top of the meat as it would sizzle on the mobile grill. Sold at low prices, street meat attracted many Chinese citizens, for their bodies and metabolisms had been adapted to consume, different forms of cooked meat.

Shark fin soup: Xi’ an

Although illegal in most states within the United States, shark fin is commonly consumed in many different forms across Asia. I mistakenly tried shark fin soup for the first time, thinking that it was a rare form of miso soup, and quickly fell in love. After you get past the fact that there is a fin in your soup, giving taste to your hot broth, shark fin soup has a very simple dull taste.

Hot pot: Beijing  

Hot pot is when each individual is given a bowl of water, placed upon a flame. You are then given a fixed number of portions and sauces to create your own soup-like creation! Toppings such as vegetables, spinach, raw pork, meats, and eggs would be placed into the boiling pot, to cook your own personalized meal. Hot pot was one of my favorite meals and reminded me the most like what we eat in the United States.

Other Chinese foods that I tried in which aren't captured are, crickets, duck, soy ice cream, Chinese Oreos (yes they taste much different), and fried Cheetos!


1) https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/chinese-foods-that-arent-actually-chinese.html/

2) http://en.chinaculture.org/focus/2013-06/04/content_461822.htm