People who know me well have been asking me about the food in China – with a slight hint of concern. Is my obsession that obvious? You don’t need to answer that.
Well, I can’t speak for China yet, but Beijing, as one of the world’s largest internationalised cities, has pretty much everything you could possibly want on tap.
Lets start with the essentials. Cheese and bread. There is a strong local French expat influence in our district – I wouldn’t know the numbers but there are Frenchies here in force, the signs are everywhere. French cheeses, wines, good baguettes, chocolate éclairs and milles feuilles are a dead give away – as is the French butcher that stocks goose liver paté, pork riettes and those funky rough dark brown sugar cubes the French love to put in their coffees. But the true measure of this influence is probably the extra large tins of chestnut jam in the local supermarket.
For meat then, you have the choice of Frenched lamb chops, pork sausages, veal escallops, bifsteak etc or you can go around to the local wet market and buy the local pork. Of course we are doing a mixture of both, depending on which cuts and kind of meat we are after.
The local veggies look and taste great. We do wash them carefully, but have baulked at using a dedicated veggie washing liquid to do so – I might need to research this as I’m not sure how strong the arguments are for using it. Also, it is early summer, so it will be interesting to see what the markets have in them when it gets colder.
There are heaps of shops – from giant supermarket chains like Carrefour to street vendors with those old fashioned hand carts and, for example, only fresh peaches for sale – so the we are shopping frequently for what we need, when we need it.
All this shopping, particularly in the small shops, is helping me learn my numbers. I have surprisingly poor retention of new words – it was much easier learning languages when I was a kid – but repetition is slowly overcoming my shortcomings in this area.
Anyway, with me cooking during the week, and K on the weekends, the result is pretty familiar fare chez Vickers – which is a good thing in my book.
And then, at least every Friday night, we are eating out, which is where it gets much more interesting. . .