Try to describe English food to a Chinese student through the inherent language barrier and the adjectives bland, boring and insipid come to mind next to the plethora of flavours and tastes on offer in Hangzhou’s finest eateries. Writes Sean Carson…
Confronted with only a Chinese menu, the dining experience is pure pot-luck in the first place, but all the better for the westerner with a curious pallet.
The cuisine is a world away from the generic fare served up in most Chinese establishments back in the UK: flavoursome and full of interesting textures and unusual cuts of meat, the dishes mark out the direct link to the Chinese way of life.
Bullfrog and dog are two of the more unusual meats on the menu but speaking from experience, the succulent dog kebabs the Coventry clan smashed the Granny out of would make the perfect food after a night out in the Colly back home!
Mastering chopsticks is another hurdle to navigate in itself, but once you gain the dexterity to grasp the technique (trying to avoid the repetitive strain injury) you get an unrivalled sense of self-satisfaction until the locals smirk at your stilted stabs at the food in front of you.
In the end it’s all inconsequential, as no matter how or what you devour, it’s all chock-full of vibrant, titillating flavours alien to a western pallet but in a way that makes you crave more.
Now, where’s my next meal coming from?