One way to taste a variety of cuisines around the world is to fly from region to region, country to country, scoping out the best foods from each location. Though super fun, most of us would go broke pretty fast if we tried that approach.
Another way is to have all these places come together in one single location.
The World Expo is a unique international fair that occurs once every five years. It is an extravagant event that lasts for months, where countries come together to exhibit to the rest of the world various aspects of their people, their culture, and, of course, their food!
Bryan and I visited Shanghai during the 2010 World Expo back in September. On top of learning a lot about the various countries, we also had some pretty unique food experiences!
I'm cheering for joy in the picture above because I finally found "China Food Street." What's China Food Street? Just imagine . . . a huge room full of various food stalls representing all the different provinces of China. Seriously, what better way to sample the cuisines throughout China in one afternoon than here?
Off we went . . . .
China Food Street was huge, with stalls after stalls representing all the different regions.
Beijing had its own stall, and featured the famous Peking duck from the inventor of the Peking Duck, Quanjude peking duck.
We went around 5:30PM, which turned out to be an excellent idea, because later the place would be absolutely MOBBED! [Navigating a place that's mobbed in China is NO FUN!]
As there were only two of us, we were limited in the number of dishes we could try (SAD!). We wanted to try less familiar dishes from regions we didn't know as well. Here's a sampling of what we tried.
We have a friend from the province of Hubei, so we thought it would be fun to try some snacks from her region. She confirmed that the dishes we tried were very authentic. Pictured above, glutinous rice wrapped in a deep fried tofu skin. On the right, glutinous rice wrapped with a rice flour wrapping. Both were delicious, dominated mostly by the flavors from the sticky rice.
Since Bryan loves fresh handmade noodles so much, the next dish we tried was a noodle soup made using knife shaved noodles.
Finally, we had to try the Peking duck from Quanjude, the most famous Peking duck place in Beijing. Quanjude essentially invented the modern Peking duck as we know it today.
Quanjude was established in 1864 during the Qing Dynasty. The first Quanjude manager, Yang Renquan, took the imperial recipe for Peking duck and used it to open the first Quanjude in Beijing, thus introducing this amazing dish to the common folks.
We didn't think it was nearly as good as other Peking duck places we tried in Beijing, but then it's not exactly fair to compare a food court stall with a fancy sit-down place.
Other Worldwide Tastes
We snacked our way around the Expo, never really wanting to take the time out to sit down for a proper meal during the day. There was too much to see!
One of my favorite European cookies is the Dutch stroopwafel. This is a sandwich cookie composed of a chewy caramel center between two thin wafers. I used to love buying them at Trader Joe's (cheapest source I could find) and could easily eat many of these chewy cookies in one sitting.
I think I gasped out loud when I saw the people at the Netherlands Pavilion making these fresh. FRESH? I'd never seen them made fresh. of course I took tons of pictures and bought several.
More than once, Bryan and I opted to visit casual Taiwanese lunch spots. There's something about the traditional Taiwanese braised meat sauce over rice (lu ro) that I find so comforting and satisfying. Maybe it reminds me of home!
Below, I am enjoying a traditional Taiwanese meat sauce dish over rice, complete with a soy sauce egg, a pickled daikon, and some peanuts on the side. Best part? A HUMONGOUS bowl of shaved ice with red bean and condensed milk. Shaved ice is also so classic Taiwanese!
This is not exactly food, but it's food related. Food is Singapore (especially their street food) is so good and so well known, the Singapore Pavilion actually had a little interactive exhibit on their food.
You had to play the drums to the beat. If you did it fast enough, pictures of Singaporean food would light up on the dishes up ahead. It was kind of cute, ha ha, probably geared towards kids, but that didn't stop me!
49 Michelin Stars?
Finally, the Spanish Pavilion sponsored a really incredible eating series during the Expo. Every week, a different set of Michelin-starred Spanish chefs would fly to the Expo to prepare a tasting menu at the Gran Melia hotel. This "gastronomic program" totaled 49 Michelin stars when you took into account all the chefs that were participating.
Bryan and I didn't hear about this thing until we arrived in China, but it just so happened we arrived during the grand culminating week - the week that included several two and three star Michelin chefs!
This is part 10 of the China Series detailing my recent trip to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai.
part 9: Din Tai Fung (dumplings)
Happy Birthday Bryan: an Ode to Noodles and Ducks
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