A recent dinner at a Chinese food restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.
“Let’s see if I got this right she said. You went all the way to Santiago, Chile, and you ate Chinese food?”
“Yes, I said, that’s correct.”
“That’s ridicules.” she said, and then walked away with a scowl on her face.
It’s OK, I get this all the time.
I get it all the time, because I do it all the time; travel to foreign lands and then eat Chinese food. Why? I obviously like Chinese food, but there’s more. I like to call it the “Great Culinary Equalizer.”
It seems that no matter where I go, there’s a Chinese restaurant. Forget McDonald, forget Coke, forget pizza. It’s like the great myth of Atlantis in the final days, except instead of sending out the doctor, the musician, the artist, and the stone cutter, the ancient elders sent forth the Lo Mein, the Mongolian Beef, the dumplings, and the rice.
There’s an idea that so much of the Chinese food I eat has been ‘western-ized.” Some would say it’s not what the ‘real Chinese’ would eat. Not a problem for me…..I recognize most of the food.
Many places, especially outside the United States, the Chinese restaurant is considered gourmet food and an exclusive dinning experience.
On a two-week trip with my Father to Ireland, he seem surprised by my dinner choice, but later admitted it was the best meal he had on the whole trip, that night in Waterford. Across Ireland, in Galway City is a favorite place when I’m there, as I dine adjacent to the Lynch Castle. Santiago was excellent, and I learned to ride the local subway just for the trip. I passed on the pigeon at a restaurant in Holland, but the company of my family was great. Deep in Bangkok, Thailand was a little challenge to get to, but there is still a Chinatown, and I was there. Montreal; excellent food without the fatty dough balls on the General Tso’s Chicken. Seattle and San Francisco, but your going to have to climb some hills for it. Sweden, Norway, and Iceland; off the beaten path, but they’re still cooking the food. In Paris? Skip the finger food and hit the Chinese buffet; delicious!
On a ski trip to Innsbruck, Austria, I announced to a crowd of people I only recently met that I intended to take the advice of a local cab driver and venture out that night to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. An unknown woman aggressively stepped up to me and said ” I didn’t come all the way to Austria to eat Chinese food!” (oh this again). I told her that nobody was forcing her to do anything. I stated that I was going to dinner there, and if she wished to come along, she was welcome. Grudgingly she accepted my invitation, only latter to be exceptionally apologetic, because after dinner, she commented that it was the best Chinese food she had ever had. I forgave her initial rash comments; what else could I do after her apology? Well that, and the fact that I ran into her and her husband the next night, and she felt obliged to confess that for their special romantic anniversary dinner that night, the two of them had gone back to the same Chinese restaurant for dinner again……and “it was still excellent!”
I get it. The ‘Great Culinary Equalizer’ just brings out the happiness in people; the whole world round.
I love this idea. And you’re right. We were in Venice many years ago for New Years Eve, and the only place we could get a seat was a chinese. I have never had such a show of beautiful food, including an entire sailing ship made out of woven noodles- it was a gift of the house because there were six of us. Great that you wrote on it.
One of my favorite memories from our trip to Europe in 2011 was one night in Bayeaux, France. We went to a Chinese restaurant after touring the beaches of Normandy for 8 hours. It was Michael and I, the Scottish man and Irish woman who owned the B&B we were at, their friends (both Scottish), and another couple. He was a Swedish narcotics officer and his lovely wife. The food was wonderful and it was like being at the United Nations! Chinese food rules!
Excellent post, ZD!
Den,not gonna tell Gin that you dissed pizza,blasphemy!!Gourd bless!
Billy, if it wasn’t for the Chinese…….the Italians would have nothing to eat!
Your equaliser is balanced exceptionally well between the tips of two chopsticks!! The real culinary diaspora!! 😉
There are so many interpretations on Chinese dishes even throughout parts of the United States. I’ve not eaten any Chinese food outside of the U.S. other than in Canada where the fare is pretty ubiquitous. My wife doesn’t like Chinese food too much so I rarely eat it anymore other than the fast food variety if I’m eating on my own. Even that can be pretty good sometimes though.
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Tossing It Out
What a cool idea to add to the whole travel experience!
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