After Taiwan we travelled to China – specifically to Shaoqing via Shenzhen. The primary purpose of the visit was to see the village that my father came from and pay our respects at my grandmother’s grave – but there’s always time to sample some of the regional specialties!
Given the size of the party we were travelling with, every meal was a “feast” of sorts, but there was one that was particularly memorable: the banquet we threw at my father’s village. We paid for the banquet but the dishes were chosen by the villagers themselves. This was interesting for me as it showed the unique local palate of the villagers – if you could choose anything on the menu, and someone else is footing the bill, what dishes would end up on your dinner table? Personally, the meal would have to feature crustaceans – in fact, perhaps just a smorgasbord of different crustaceans and molluscs. For the locals, meat & offal seemed to feature highly. Some of the dishes they chose inlcuded a soya chicken dish made with local chicken, local chicken giblets stir fried with celery (a dish abundant in “crunchy textures”), ginger & shallot fish cutlets, fried swimming school prawns, pig’s stomach sphincter in black bean sauce (I don’t think there is a way to make that dish sound appetising, but it was actually tasty), stir fried pig’s stomach with vegetables and king do spare ribs (a sweet, sticky & peppery rib recipe).
It was the best that the locals had to offer and I wouldn’t call it a culinary epiphany but it was village fare so I didn’t really expect that. Besides, I don’t mind a spot of offal…
Other specialities of the region that I tried included tofu made with mountain water (very soft & silky) and Shaoqing sticky dumpling. Photos of all the dishes can be viewed here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ForagingOtaku/China2008#by