Monday, March 16, 2009

Chongqing Xiaochi

While visiting Southwest University, we had the opportunity to sample a few of the delicious culinary treats that this municipality has to offer. Our two favorites included a stop at what is reported to be "Chinese fast food" and another at a subterranean food court.

Wanting to treat us to all the locally famous hot spots, Sophie, our contact person at SWU and new hao pengyou, took us to a place known as CSC. Sounding remarkably like KFC (which Z calls "Kentucky Fried Children"), CSC (which Z has so-named "Chinese Stir-Fried Children," but actually short for "Country Style Cooking") provided a wide variety of choices. Ordering almost enough food for the population of Chongqing (which numbers around 30 million, by the way), our selections included some super spicy Sichuan noodles, a ham steak that was breaded and deep fried, tang mian (noodle soup), meatballs, fried chicken and french fries, bubble tea, mulberry tarts, rice, and some veggies. And, yes, this was fast food. The counter and the seating areas were strikingly similar to McDonald's and KFC, but the food, while quickly prepared and served, was really tasty and at least modestly healthy.

The true delights of Chongqing, though, were experienced later that evening. After running short on time because of some extended shopping and sightseeing, our planned meal of Sichuan hot pot fell by the wayside. While we did get a chance to have that meal at another time, this change of plans enabled us to head underground at the Jiefangbei shopping area to a food court that served all different types of street food. Once again, we left no dish unsampled. Starting with skewers of doufu, fresh veggies, mushrooms, and meats of many types, first boiled then dipped in some type of Sichuan concoction, then moving on to guo tie (fried dumplings), nangua bing (pumpkin cakes), bowls of tapioca and watermelon chunks mixed in with a substance reminiscent of jell-o, small pork dumplings in soup, and Sichuan la mian (noodles with spices unrecognizable, but perfectly mixed), we practically needed to roll up the stairs when we were done.

Eating in Chongqing was but another culinary adventure, once again proving that the Western concept of Chinese food is a bit incomplete.



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