When I got off the train at Badaling to see the Great Wall of China, I stepped into an arctic blast. By the ticket office, a woman was selling pancakes from a counter window. It wasn’t a fancy affair; it was meant to be eaten by hand. It wasn’t the most flavorful thing. But it was warm, and that’s all that counted.
After spending time at the Great Wall, I had lunch in a restaurant in the tourist village at Badaling. I must have been sat in the section for foreigners because the tables were set with forks. There were no chopsticks to be seen.
I ordered the “fine” kung pao chicken. It was nice to see that kung pao chicken, fine or otherwise, is an authentic Chinese dish. I love kung pao chicken, and I always get it with no peanuts because I’m not a nut-eater. I looked up in my phrasebook how to say “without peanuts”. Of course, the waitress had no idea what I was saying. I pointed to the words, and she got the message. I was so excited. I was getting kung pao chicken with no peanuts with my special order communicated sort of in Chinese, in China! And at the Great Wall at that!
My order came, and I was surprised that it was actually quite sweet. Not normally what I’d expect from kung pao chicken. But who cares! Between this and the Sichuan dinner I had the night before at the hotel, I was finally getting satisfying Chinese food in China!
Back at the hotel in central Beijing that night, I ordered Yang zhou fried rice through room service. I usually see it as yang chow fried rice here in the States. It was prepared with pork, shrimp, sausage, peas, green onion, and eggs. One thing it didn’t seemed to be prepared with was soy sauce. So unfortunately, the whole affair was rather tasteless. I didn’t bother calling room service to deliver some because I didn’t want to wait and have my dinner get cold. Alas, my streak of satisfying Chinese meals was short-lived.
[Disclaimer: Many people have heard me state that I don’t eat red meat. However, I do eat red meat when I travel overseas. This is for two reasons. One, I don’t want to unnecessarily restrict myself when it comes to trying local dishes. Two, sometime it’s hard to get something that doesn’t contain beef or pork when eating overseas.]