China's Best Food Blogs: Chinese Street Food

2015-09-04 02:28:40 Author:culture Source:National culture Browse number:0 Comment 0 A

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It's the Summer of Food in Shanghai. As part of our celebration of all the good things to eat in this city, we're not just offering some sweet deals on the city's best restaurants. We're also featuring some of China's best food bloggers. If you haven't heard of these bloggers yet, make sure to click through their food porn, add a bookmark, and read on for more about their love affair with food.

Today's featured blog is more of a giant, eating travel adventure (that you'll hopefully soon find in bookstores!). For now you can find it online as the Field Guide to Chinese Street Food. We had five questions for the man behind this culinary adventure, Frank Kasell.

City Weekend: Care to introduce yourself?

Frank Kasell: I grew up in Hudson, Ohio, and currently live in Pittsboro, North Carolina. My interest in China and Chinese street food began after college, when my wife (then-girlfriend) and I went to teach English in Jiujiang, Jiangxi, for a year. I had never really studied the country or language before I arrived in China, but I fell in love with it almost immediately. I loved the culture, the chaos, the vibrancy, the novelty -- everything.  

Of course along with everything else, I fell in love with the food (especially street food). When I returned to the United States after my year in China, I wanted to go back virtually from the moment the plane wheels touched down; I just needed a good reason for going.  


(via Frank's blog)

A couple of years after my return to the States I got the idea to compile a travel guide focusing on the street foods found in different cities all over China, and there was my idea. I dreamed about doing it for another couple of years before the stars aligned and the right time arrived.  

I quit my job, kissed my very understanding wife goodbye, and went back to China for three months of research in 32 provinces and 53 cities. Now the book is almost finished and I'm looking forward to it being on the market soon so I can begin plotting my next trip to China. 

What's your ideal day of dining in China? (Assume you can magically hop from city to city.)

I specialize in street food, so I'm inclined to design a whole day around some of my favorite street food dishes in the country. This magically hopping from city to city thing really helps. I'm also going to assume that I haven't eaten for a few days and am willing to overeat a bit on this ideal day of eating in China. Even with all of those caveats, it's really tough to narrow things down -- you could ask this question another day, and I might come up with all different answers.


Wuhan's 热干面

In any case, here goes: I think I'd start my day with a steaming bowl ofWuhan's 热干面 (re gan mian), one of the best breakfast-time noodle dishes in the country.  


Inner Mongolia's 酸奶炒米

Assuming I still have some room left in my stomach for a sweeter, cooler dish, I might head up to Inner Mongolia for a bowl of 酸奶炒米 (suan nai chao mi). This one has a lower profile in the country than 热干面, but it's still a delicious start to a big day of eating. All it is, basically, is cold butter, crispy millet puffs, and sugar. Can you imagine? It's completely decadent and well worth the guilt you might feel about eating a bowl of butter and sugar.  


Chengdu's 甜水面

When lunchtime rolls around, I would jet over to Chengdu to have one of my favorite dishes in all of China: 甜水面 (tian shui mian). Like many dishes in Chengdu, these thick, rough-hewn, slightly stiff noodles are topped with a fantastic mala sauce. That by itself would probably be tasty enough, but to make things even better, 甜水面 comes with a generous sprinkling of fat sugar crystals on top. The mixture of flavors and sensations is divine -- sweet, spicy, numbing, hearty -- it's very nearly a perfect bowl of noodles.  


Zhuti, or pig trotter

For a mid-afternoon snack, I would likely nibble on either Ningbo's 缙云烧饼 (jinyun shaobing), Kunming's 猪蹄 (zhu ti, or pig trotter), Xi'an's 柿子饼 (shizi bing, or fried persimmon cakes), Guiyang's 豆腐圆子 (doufu yuanzi), or Jiujiang's 油糍 (youci) (which happens to be the first Chinese street food I fell in love with). If I was feeling especially peckish, I might have two or three of those.


Youci, or delicious fried batter

When dinnertime rolled around, I think I would go down to Guangzhou and start with a bowl of 萝卜牛杂 (luobo niu za): cow organs and radishes in broth. It's a delightful mix of textures and flavors, especially if you like offal.


萝卜牛杂 (luobo niu za)

On A: Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles with Beef 兰州牛肉拉面

Next article: Dong Food

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