A Taste of China, Episode 1

One stat we have not shared yet is the number of calories we burn per day. According to our GPS (yes, the one that sends us on unfinished bridges, see week 2), the daily total reaches around 2000 on a good day and 3000 on a bad day, depending on how you look at it.
Despite the desire for at least one of the Road of Smiles team to shed his love handles, this means filling our musette bag with the right amount of glucids, lipids and protids in order to avoid the much-feared “fringale” (bonking in original “tour de france” jargon).
While we don’t feel the need to share our tasting notes on Skittles, Snickers and other widely available sweets (though you would be surprised at how good Skittles can taste after a 5-hour headwind ride in the country-side), in the past month we have come across a large range of delicacies that has turned our cycling adventure into a meals-on-wheels extravaganza.
Our journey has just begun and much to our delight, we know for sure that China’s immense culinary tradition still holds many more surprises for us in the next two months.

Here are a few winners (and losers) of the last month:

Giant chocolate cookies? Bullet-proof jackets? Paul Gascoigne's liver? - In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

Giant chocolate cookies? Bullet-proof jackets? Paul Gascoigne’s liver? – In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

DIY street food - In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

DIY street food – In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

Collection of various pickles and spices. Xi'an is indeed the Gate to the West. - In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

Collection of various pickles and spices. Xi’an is indeed the Gate to the West. – In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

Pickled garlic, a pre-date special. In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

Pickled garlic, a pre-date special. In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

"No veggie burgers?" - In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

“No veggie burgers?” – In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

The famous biang-biang mian, whose name is made of the most complex Chinese character of all, rather ironic given the simplicity of the dish. For 20 RMB, it's worth the hype. In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

The famous biang-biang mian, whose name is made of the most complex Chinese character of all, rather ironic given the simplicity of the dish. For 20 RMB, it’s worth the hype. In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

Chefs pulling the noodles - In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

Chefs pulling the noodles – In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

Totally innocent peanuts are mixed with caramel and smashed with a sledge-hammer. In Xi'an's muslim quarter.

Totally innocent peanuts are mixed with caramel and smashed with a sledge-hammer. In Xi’an’s muslim quarter.

The result is a standard but tasty peanut brittle

The result is a standard but tasty peanut brittle

Lollipop made of sticky rice, sugar and rose-flower jam. Tasty. In Xi'an's muslim quarter, with Ellie, Oli's Chinese teacher and tour guide extraordinaire.

Lollipop made of sticky rice, sugar and rose-flower jam. Tasty. In Xi’an’s muslim quarter, with Ellie, Oli’s Chinese teacher and tour guide extraordinaire.

"would you like some noodles with your chilli, sir?" - in Xi'an.

“Would you like some noodles with your chilli, sir?” – in Xi’an.

Not wanting to stand out any more than usual, team Road of Smiles tuck into some local delicacies - in Weinan, Shaaxi.

Not wanting to stand out any more than usual, team Road of Smiles tuck into some local delicacies – in Weinan, Shaanxi.

Ok, it does not look good. But it could be, right? Well, it's not. Probably made of sweet potato and filled with an unidentified dark paste (red bean). Avoid. Bad. - In Xi'an muslim quarter.

Ok, it does not look good. But it could be, right? Well, it’s not. Probably made of sweet potato and filled with an unidentified dark paste (red bean?). Avoid. Bad. – In Xi’an muslim quarter.Kebab meets pancake meets wrap meets fajita.  Nicer on the way in than on the way out.- in Tongguan, Shaanxi.Kebab meets pancake meets wrap meets fajita. Nicer on the way in than on the way out.- in Tongguan, Shaanxi.

As the Great Philosopher Laozi once said "A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar" - Drinking frog's spawn in Tongguan, Shaanxi.

As the Great Philosopher Laozi once said “A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar” – Drinking frog’s spawn in Tongguan, Shaanxi.

While most ex-Presidents choose a life of key-note speeches, George Bush Jnr continues the War on Terror by bringing finger-licking-good chicken gizzards to the streets of Sanmenxia - in Sanmenxia, Henan.

While most ex-Presidents choose a life of key-note speeches, George Bush Jnr continues the War on Terror by bringing finger-licking-good chicken gizzards to the streets of Sanmenxia – in Sanmenxia, Henan.

Bread noodle soup served with a side of bread and some bread for dessert - in Huaxian, Shaanxi.

Bread noodle soup served with a side of bread and some bread for dessert – in Huaxian, Shaanxi.

Rou Jia Mou... Pork + fat + raw garlic + crispy bun = the Shaanxi answer to the Big Mac (served while Matthieu tells a joke to chap in background) - in Lingbao, Henan

Rou Jia Mou… Pork + fat + raw garlic + crispy bun = the Shaanxi answer to the Big Mac (served while Matthieu tells a joke to chap in background) – in Lingbao, Henan

Rou Jia Mou - the end result

Rou Jia Mou – the end result

Luoyang Grand Hyatt

The breakfast-in-bed option at the Luoyang Grand Hyatt

Some of the best dumplings we have tasted yet shows that food hygiene issues can indeed be solved by nuking the ingredients - in Luoyang, Henan.

Some of the best dumplings we have tasted yet shows that food hygiene issues can indeed be solved by nuking the ingredients – in Luoyang, Henan.

Asbestos fingers

Asbestos fingers

There's nothing quite like freshly baked bread and a chef that doesn't put his fingers all over your food. In Luoyang, Henan.

There’s nothing quite like freshly baked bread and a chef that doesn’t put his fingers all over your food. In Luoyang, Henan.

The Chinese version of Pate de tete - in Luoyang, Henan.

The Chinese version of Pate de tete – in Luoyang, Henan.

Dough balls filled with syrup and deep-fried in tractor engine's oil. A tasty (and welcome) alternative to Snickers for dessert - in Henan.

Dough balls filled with syrup and deep-fried in tractor engine’s oil. A tasty (and welcome) alternative to Snickers for dessert – in Henan.

Said balls being gently malaxed by expert hands before the happy ending (in the deep frier)

Said balls being gently malaxed by expert hands before the happy ending (in the deep frier)

Who would have thought that Goldfish and cucumber would go so well together once lightly fried and with a dab of chilli - in Mencheng, Anhui.

Who would have thought that goldfish and cucumber would go so well together once lightly fried and with a dab of chilli – in Mencheng, Anhui.

Hope they don't spell H7N9... - in Suzhou, Jiangsu.

Hope they don’t spell H7N9… – in Suzhou, Jiangsu.

Ellie is unhappy: Oli cannot remember the name of any of the 150 dishes we tried

Ellie is unhappy: Oli cannot remember the name of any of the 150 dishes we tried in Xi’an.

One thought on “A Taste of China, Episode 1

  1. That last line about remembering food eaten is hilarious. My wife is the same way! Next time you’re in Xi’an, try the noodle king on ChaiJiaShiZi Lu near the XiMen. Nice big bowl of biangbiang mian for 7 yuan. Tastes great and cheaper than the tourist hot spot behind GuLo.
    Great images, too. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s