February 19, 2008

Chi fan

I'm not sure what it is about food here, but it seems less filling than in Austin. Maybe that's a comment on the typical American diet and/or what we like to put in food. Maybe I'm still in like "vacation" mode or something, so psychologically my brain is still relaxing. (Maybe this is why I can't seem to find time for the gym.) But seriously, I eat a whole meal and like 3 hours later I'm hungry again. Even when it's not Chinese food - even when it's cookies or chocolate or something like that. Something over here must be different. If I could read the ingredients, I might investigate :-)

Tonight Charles, Herbert and I ate some hot pot. That's this deal where you all sit at a table with a big, well, pot plonked down in the middle of it, above a burner. The pot is full of broth and some veggies. The staff turns on the burner, and you order raw meat and throw it in the pot. When it's nice and cooked (that's the important part), you take the food out of the boiling cauldron and eat it.


Being in a foreign country, and being also perhaps preternaturally disposed towards worrying about unsanitary food, and being aware that my co-worker James got sick from hot pot when we visisted in November, I was a little wary about trying it myself. And, unfortunately, my co-workers insisted we order the spicy version. Now, I was not raised on spicy food, but I was pretty proud of the effort I made in Austin to eat spicy Mexican food. I even indulged in some spicy Indian and Thai food on occasion. However, spicy Chinese food (usually from Sichuan or Hunan province) is a totally different level. I can only take so much of it in one dish, let alone an entire meal. So when I saw the red peppers floating in the broth, I knew I was in for it.

And yes, it was insanely spicy. The kind of spicy where my lips, tongue, and throat were buzzing after each bite. It was not very pleasant, but I managed to hang in there and finish the meal. I couldn't really tell if it was good, though -- the spiciness just got in the way of the food. It was too much. So if I do hot pot again, I'll make sure to get the non-spicy version - but the way I hear it, that's kind of like the wussy way out. Oh well, so sue me - I like to taste my food :-)

As for the wigglies, well, I gave everything a thorough once-over before I actually ate it, and once or twice I even checked with Herbert or Charles, who have hot pot experience. So I think I'm fine. But, I will wait 24 hours or so before declaring myself 100%, haha.