Welcome to the fourth article based on the Xiangsheng Xiangke food chart that I posted in the “Foods that React to Each other“. Today we continue to cover combinations of food that are naturally healthy on their own, but Chinese traditions (and TCM) suggest they react to each other in various ways. Let’s start with a meat and vegetable combination.
+ “Cauliflower has vitamins and minerals, and when eaten with chicken it can make stronger bones. Combined they also improve the detoxing power of your liver and give your immune system a boost. With that you will fight colds much more easily.” Perhaps a little cauliflower in the traditional Chicken Noodle soup recipe would help.
Good food on a budget is a specialty not only in China, but across the developing world. In countries which have recently joined the world economy, or only within the past 20-30 years, local food traditions have stayed strong. And although Western food is becoming more popular in these countries, their preference for local traditional dishes is unlikely to change in the near future.
The one common remark that students studying abroad make about their experience is that food doesn’t meet their standards. For example, the pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and salads option that fill cafeterias in the US provoke a homesickness that is unavoidable. Looking at the common dish I had for dinner last night, could you blame them for missing home?
Day two of my visit home and I decided to cook up something unexpected! Big, white, fluffy cauliflower! Woo hoo! First of all, my father looked at the huge serving of cauliflower I had prepared and was anything but ecstatic. …great… Ben’s cooking dull, taste-less, rabbit food… I knew this meal could be a tough pill to swallow, so I had to take out the big guns!
To clarify, my father is a meat-lover. Most dads are. Steak, hamburger, chicken, or pork should fill the air at most meal times. A major dish at lunch consisting of rabbit food was a little disappointing to say the least. So, I thought… if I could transform the flavor of this vege into something mouth-watering and meaty, what would it taste like?
I would be lying if I said that eating well in China requires more than $3 or $4 per day. In fact, the more processed the food, the more expensive it is here; which is completely opposite in my country (America). Also, to make my life easier, I choose the campus canteen options which usually vary between 8-12 options. The picture to the right is two options + rice for about $1. (The rice serving is only about 10 cents.)
Today, I ate cauliflower and carrots with thin sausage slices and spicy chicken chunks (辣子鸡 La zi Ji). La zi Ji is one of the most famous dishes from Si Chuan province. This meal was a little on the meaty side …. but, I usually get a single meat and a single vege (or toufu) dish together with white rice. Other days it is fish and veges and toufu. Most days I’ll also order a soup which contains peanuts, kelp, eggs, and chicken bones.
My canteen meals are quite varied and I get inspiration for new recipes from there. Best of all, I can eat lots of great food for little money. Paying $1-2 for a bag of chips just doesn’t make sense anymore.