Saturday, July 14, 2007

Will travel for food... steamed buns in China, yummy.

"Steamed Buns on the Bund"

I haven' t yet had the chance or true inclination to travel to China until last week. (See article for why)

Let me think about my travels to Asia at all. I've always wanted to go to Japan (still haven't) for their noodles, city lights, high-speed trains, cultural differences and to experience the Tokyo subway. Oh and to see Hokkaido (I'm a sucker for all novels by Murakami and "A Wild Sheep Chase" just got me really curious about Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. I wanted to go to South Korea and had the chance, and excuse, to spend the money in January for a very close friend's wedding in Seoul. I want to go to Thailand to see why they love their king so much and get myself an 'i love the king' yellow tshirt. I've even wanted to go to India, see what all the fuss is about, check out some ancient architecture, and of course the food. So my travels to Asia have been only one and my dreams of it have been many.

I once went with two friends on the Chunnel from London to Paris to get the best hot chocolate in Paris, based only on one of the two's recommendation that it was. She was right. It was incredible. It was about 8 hours in one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, and I saw it on one of the most rainy days ever. So we ran through the Louve, and then straight to Cafe Angelique. The hot chocolate was the best I've ever had. I didn't get to see the Eiffel Tower since it was covered by fog and gray sky. I remember the food. I will always travel for food.

When we were in Florence last summer, our last day there before heading to Pesaro I found a sandwich shop that made the tastiest sandwiches because they used regionally-grown extra virgin olive oil that tasted like something. I bought a bottle of one whose flavor I loved and used it protectively over the past year. I enjoyed every smell and feeling from that bottle.

I also really have a thing for two pastas that I was able to find in Pesaro and not in New York. They're not THAT unusual and yet, I saved the label and bags they came in and would bring them with me to Italian shops in the city. No luck. I'm so very grateful my lovely friend from Pesaro is going to bring me two bags when she comes to visit in a week or two. I'm very excited about the pasta. Light, eggy, like air. You wouldn't drown it in some heavy sauce. The most lighly seasoned and freshly chopped tomato. Simple, simple, simple. That's what Italian food means to me. Something tastes like something, don't hide it. Match it with other tastes and make them all shine better.

I've also been to Wagamama on Lexington St in London about 10 times. I went five times once during a week long trip to London. Yes, I love Japanese style noodles in soup. I feel like I have to pace myself, but I could really eat them several times a week (if not more often). I also love a particular fish and chip shop in an town just outside of Ilford (East London/Essex). I know how to get there by car from a stop in Ilford on the 123 bus. I've had fish and chips in New York at A Salt and Battery a bunch of times. It's the closest to the stuff from 'home.' But it's the travel there that makes the experience of the food better. I really love British food. They really do know how to do a nice dinner. Toad in the Hole and Spotted dick, yorkshire pudding and roasted, well, everything. It's the place I learned to enjoy vegetables and that cooking with onion was a pleasure. (I come from a very Italian family and it took me living in England for a year to come to love onions and garlic, go figure.)

Now, back to my original point, I will travel for food. And if food will travel to me, that's good too. It's why I live in New York City. I don't enjoy working too many hours or the subway in the summer, but it's a foodies' city and I love it here.

When I was a kid, Big Bird from Sesame Street either went to China or made friends with a little Chinese girl. Either way, I learned how to say 'hello' (nee-how) and saw the Great Wall of China and got interested. I must have been about six. More recently, I've read loads about how advanced China is in some urban planning, cutting edge design, and how totally environmentally destructive Bejing is, poor quality (food, products -- recent export fiascos) and how very soon there will be more English speakers in China than in the US. But this article made me want to go. It was about a lovely experience with food.

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