Day 3: Gourmet vs. Foodie
Today, I took a moment to appreciate the food that was unique to Xizhou. I became a gourmet (or a foodie, if you are so hypocritical).
Microcampus Resolution Number 1: Eat healthy
Morning Meal: Er Si is a local Xizhou dish, made entirely from rice. Yesterday, we visited a factory where the Er Si was produced, and it was fascinating. Huge sacks of rice was hauled into the back room, where it would sit. The sacks piled high and caressed the roof, and I estimated that that was enough rice to last me ten lifetimes. The rice was dumped into a huge tublike structure, which was filled with water. Then, after a certain amount of time, the rice was scooped out with baskets and cooked once. Then the softer rice was dumped into another tub, where it soaked and was again scooped out with a basket. Then, using the industrial-sized rice cooker, the rice was cooked again, and soon molded into a soft doughlike ball. Then it was poured through a special contraption, which had two cylindral wheels that both spun inwards. The dough balls were through in, and the machine ensure it became a long flat strip of dough, like a pizza with a Stretching Jinx (Harry Potter Reference). The strip was hung on a wooden rack to dry overnight, and the next morning the strip was again crushed in a ball, thrown through the machine, and would be ready for cutting.
The Er Si was slightly fatter than normal noodles, but a lot thinner and chewier than the Japanese Udon. It had a clear, refreshing taste, and was served in a bowl of soup.
Noon Meal: Something I noticed was the frequent use of onions and oil in Xizhou cooking (do not get me started on the spice). It gives everything a slightly saltier taste, and that was why I made my resolution.
Tea: Sunny Q. and I were planning to pay a visit to Sifanjie, which acted as a village square, but we got sidetracked by a tea shop. The owner warmly welcomed us in, and served us tea. He told us about the history of tea, and the production methods. We were lucky that tea happened to Sunny's topic, and we soon struck a conversation. The most fascinating fact was that the value of tea cakes, which were tea leaves compressed tightly into the shape of a mooncake, grew in value every year, by approximately 20%. A 2002 tea cake would sell for 50-60 RMB then, but the same cake would be worth a thousand now. Tea takes a lot of patience. We drank the cup of black tea he offered us in those poor excuses of tea cups, you know, the way-too-tiny ones. They had a clear and fresh taste, and we praised him for the tea. He told us that tea was only after he had washed it once. The taste would improve if he washed it a few more times. We thanked him, and he gave us a pastry, filled with rose jam, for us to take home. We plan to split it...
Fun fact: The tea sold in the shop was the only product in Xizhou that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US, meaning could be directly sold in the US.
The Evening Meal: We ate out tonight, and we chose to visit a place in Sifangjie. The local specialty was called Baba, which consisted of a piece of dough baked with scallion oil, spring onions, and either rose jam or pork. The Baba was a huge favorite, and we soon finished the Baba, which looked like a cross between the Chinese Congyoubing, which were dough baked in scallion oil, and the Western pizza.
So overall, I was very satisfied with our dining experience.
Microcampus Resolution Number 2: Eat A LOT healthier...