Leaving the Han-dominated eastern and central China Provinces behind us has also meant a shift in the culinary delights that have been powering the Road of Smiles motors. Though not disappearing altogether, rice has been replaced with bread, the traditional Lazy-Susan communal-eating spinning table has been replaced with outside dining areas and mutton rather than pork dominates the menus we have encountered. Easing our stomachs gradually towards the tastes of Central Asia, and increasingly unable to buy a beer to wash down our nightly fill, there have been an abundance of fantastic dishes that we have taken great pleasure in diving into.
Marvelously decorated sweet potato cake that looks much better when still in its original form. In Lanzou, Gansu Province, China.
“Free Tibe-e-e-e-e-e-et” were his last words. In Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China.
Quite possibly one of the best meals on the trip so far, these meat dumplings were served with a sweet black tea in the most modest of surroundings. In Wuwei, Gansu Province, China.
The breakfast of champions: Dou-Jiang hot, sweetend soy milk and deep-fried Youtiao bread. The perfect start to a long day’s ride. In Yongchang, Gansu Province, China.
Excited by the prospect of re-living his childhood favourite snack of peaches in syrup, Matthieu was most disappointed to find out the syrup was in fact tractor oil. In the middle of nowhere, at the top of a mountain, Gansu Province, China.
Had we known the name for sea cucumber in Chinese this dish would not have been featured in this post. Thankfully our ignorance proved beneficial, not for the first time on the journey, as the barley-cucumber broth was surprisingly tasty. In Zhangye, Gansu Province, China.
After years of searching, countless bottles and many a pounding headache, we finally unearthed the WMD (Wine of Mass Destruction). In Zhangye, Gansu Province, China.
Freshly baked dough topped with minced chilli beef and fresh cucumber for a mere 60p / €0.7. In Hami, Xinjiang Province, China.
Nothing at all makes any sense in this picture. In Toksun, Xinjiang Province, China.
Shark’s fin is unfortunately still a popular way for hotels and local businessmen alike to impress their guests. In Hami, Xinjiang Province, China.
The world-famous Hami melon complimented with a can of Nescafe’s finest brew, local honey and freshly baked bread. In Hami, Xinjiang Province, China.
The classic Hong Kong dish of wonton soup, localised here with a delicately spiced mutton filling. In Hami, Xinjiang Province, China.
The only dish available at 95% of Xinjiang restaurants for lunch, Lamian will always have a special place in our hearts despite the fact that we never want to see one ever again. Everywhere, Xinjiang Province, China.
Another dreadful act of suppression from Beijing, the Xinjiang application to bear the Olympic torch was vetoed by the Politburo. In Shanshan, Xinjiang Province, China.
A healthy dose of good bacteria was exactly what Doctor Liard instructed after a week of road-side Lamian. In Turpan, Xinjiang Province, China.
The mighty mutton skewer with freshly prepared nan bread. Eat while still piping hot before it goes rock solid (the bread and the skewers). In Turpan, Xinjiang Province, China.
A great Xinjiang staple, Dapanji literally translates as ‘big plate of chicken’ because other than the onions, garlic, bell peppers, chilli peppers, potatoes, ground cumin, ground sichuan peppers, cooking oil, soy sauce and beer, this is exactly what it is. In Turpan, Xinjiang Province, China.
Considering the Xinjiang nan bread is amazing when eaten fresh from the oven but leads to cracked teeth if attempted to be eaten 5 minutes thereafter, it beggars belief why the owners of every bakery have so many pre-made on display. In Kumishizhen, Xinjiang Province, China.
The Xinjiang pasty filled with…..you guessed it….mutton. In Hoxud, Xinjiang Province, China.
The first bottle at the inaugural Franco-Xinjiang wine tasting event initially looked promising with a fancy bottle of Loulan dry white…
…but the only French judge refused to drink anymore of “zis revolting rotten (with rolling r’s) oxidised picrate” after only one sip. In Turpan (the home of the China wine industry), Xinjiang Province, China.
You can imagine our surpirse when we took the first sip of our Abida Soda Water to find out it was actually Scotland’s favourite national drink, Irn Bru, cleverly disguised in a transparent cloak. In Toksun, Xinjiang Province, China.
Heated rice pudding in a can came second to bottom at the Wild-at-Heart Camping Food Festival, just pipping the cold rice pudding in a can at the final judgement. Somewhere lonely, Xinjiang Province, China.
Often imitated, never duplicated. In Yanqi, Xinjiang Province, China.
With the distinct lack of decent patisseries along our route, the Oreo ice-cream whippy has become a best-we-can-find alternative. Every fast food outlet in China.
A symbol of Western China exoticism in Shanghai, Sinkiang black beer has only been found in one outlet so far in Xinjiang itself. We smell a marketing rat. In Luntai, Xinjiang Province, China.
The W&Ins Chairman received a standing ovation as he collected the gong for Winner of the worst imitation brand 2013. In Kuche, Xinjiang Province, China.
Fantastic dish of rice fried with sweetened carrot and chunks of mutton, the third most popular dish in all of Xinjiang behind mutton skewers and Lamian. In Xinhe, Xinjiang Province, China.
On the menu tonight we have Laksa noodles, cooked al dente and served ‘nature’ with a beautiful sunset view. Somewhere on the outskirts of the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang Province, China.
Home-made yoghurt, honey and shaved ice. However against all sensible food safety travel advice, this is way to good to resist temptation. In Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China.
A simple roasted chicken with chicken-juice soaked Xinjiang bread. Heaven. Served with Russian cherry juice. In Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China.
Don’t be put off by this sign in most restaurants, from our experience it is more a reflection of the relationship the owner has with the Food Bureau Inpector than it does a reflection of the fare it serves. In Aksu, Xinjiang Province, China.