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Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China, Things To Do in Zhuhai, Zhuhai Blogs

PMSA New Zealand – Zhuhai Cultural Programme

by Nick Goldstein  

Two Week PMSA Language and Culture Programme

PMSA zhuahi

I’m not a very good writer, but when asked to write a piece on my first two weeks in Zhuhai as part of the PMSA Programme I volunteered. Not only because I want to get better, but because coming here under InternChina’s culture and internship program taught me the value of doing things you are scared of. That’s why I ended up here writing about InternChina’s program, having already wasted the first 60 words.

The first two weeks were packed! My personal highlights were tea making, calligraphy and Tai Chi classes. Although lots of fun, I also learned a lot. Much like learning about the history of your country helps you understand it today, learning about the details of Chinese culture helped me understand the big picture (it’s a really big picture!)

During this time, we visited two companies operating in the free trade zone. In the same way as our cultural activities, learning about the companies taught me not only about the company itself, its processes and operations, but also the way western firms interact with Chinese. I saw two models, although on the surface very similar, in practice very different, and I felt the difference. If I were to set up an operation in China, I know what I would do differently.

Language Classes

Part of the program was two weeks of intensive language classes. 3 hours a day in a room with other kiwis trying to learn Chinese was invaluable, and although my Chinese is not comprehensive, it is enough to make a contribution to the language gap. In China, at least where I am, the effort is more appreciated than required.

Homestay Experience

The third part of the program was the homestay experience. Make no mistake this was an experience, living with my own family was difficult enough, someone else’s is downright terrifying. Despite this, however, the most valuable aspect of the course was the homestay. Visiting companies and learning about culture is useful, but you only learn so much by teaching. Living in a homestay opened me up to the culture, exposing me to the intricacies.

Examples of what I have learnt are 1. That, at least in my family, no matter how loud your child’s friend is screaming, you don’t tell them off and 2. People really don’t like it when you wear shoes in the house, like REALLY don’t like it!

homestay

What I’ve Learnt

Jokes aside, I learned about the details of the culture, and I have made friends that I will take back to New Zealand. Reflecting on the past fortnight I think the most valuable thing I have learnt are soft skills. Cultural appreciation, empathy, an understanding of the Chinese approach, and an ability to work in Chinese culture, as well as, I believe, an improved ability to work with any culture. I think the friends, contacts and memories I have made are all important. Overwhelmingly, however, participating in this program has been mostly beneficial to my appreciation of different cultures, expanding my mindset.

Cultural, Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao Eating Out Guide, Things To Do in Qingdao

Qingdao’s Huangxian Lu

It’s Sunday in Qingdao and the winter months are here, which means only one thing, coffee shops!
Take your book, your laptop, your friends with you and head to the old town where Huangxian Lu lies filled with many niche cafes, museums, crafts and micro breweries.

As an avid supporter (some may say dependent) of the caffeinated drink, I have made it my duty to try a new coffee shop every Sunday.

By Chinese standards this street is ‘hipster’, many young Chinese will dress up for the occasion and ultimately a photo shoot in the colourfully decorated street. Take some time to browse the little shops dotted in between the cafés which sell bits of art décor as well as (you guessed it) old vinyls!

Below are just a few cafes I have stumbled upon, but go and explore yourself and discover your own favourite spot!

The Cat Café.

Address: 48 Daxue Rd

Yes, there are cats! And lots of them too! The coffee and chocolate cake are not bad either. Very cosy set-up with many feline friends to cuddle up too. A great place to go if you’re missing your pet back at home!

The Giraffe Café.

Address: On the Corner of Huangxian Lu/Daxue Lu

The giraffe-patterned pole outside gives it it’s status and has been the subject of many Instagram Posts. Very sweet décor inside, clean and the coffee is good!

The Witch Café.

Next to the Giraffe coffee lies a café filled with lamps, European-style paintings and old-fashioned furniture. The 4 small rooms, 2 up, 2 down decorated with pumpkins and Halloween references, gives the café a charismatic vibe. With free wifi and friendly staff, it is a great place to sit down and work.

The Old Cinema Café.

Address: 14 Huangxian Lu

A little bit bigger than the other cafes which makes it great for social study groups. Otherwise, just take a coffee and enjoy watching the silent films.

There are more than coffee shops around!

The Residence of Lao She.

Address: 12 Huangxian Lu

Lao She, a famous author lived on this street where he wrote some of China’s most famous literature, such as Camel Xiangzi. His house has been opened as a quaint museum and I would recommend having a look (It’s free ;))!  The residents of Qingdao are very proud!

YOWO – The Leather Shop.

Address: 35 Huangxian Lu

This is a very cute workshop, where you can learn how to work with leather and make homemade gifts for yourself or family. Really interesting experience especially if you are one for design and crafts.

Strong Ale Works – Brewery.

Address: 12 Daxue Lu

This micro brewery is friendly, cozy, has a lovely ambiance, and most of all, beers are, though not exactly cheap by Chinese standards, amazing! A beer-lover’s must-see!

Internship Experience, Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao

Alfred’s New Experiences in Qingdao

Do you know these moments in your life, when you are leaning against a railing in a harbour, looking at the waves without really looking? Smelling the salty sea scent and listening to the seagulls screeching, but you don’t listen and smell actively?
In these kind of moments, you will have a talk with yourself and ask in your head with a tremulous voice: “what the heck am I doing here?” At least it was like this in my case.

About Me

I am a 29-year-old German. I worked as a bank clerk for 6 years in Germany. And now after studying two and a half years I landed in Qingdao. How come?

Am I a romantic enthusiast that practiced traditional “fan-tai-chi”? Am I a lover of Chinese poetry? Did I watch too much Kung Fu Panda? Or do I just like to castigate myself learning all the Chinese characters?

Chinese women practicing fan tai chi

No, is the answer to all these questions, it was a reason wedding. But as history shows this can have quite good outcome (not that I recommend this style of marriage). In my case it pumped up the numbers quite high. While I used to ask myself the “what the heck?” question in quite unromantic places, now I can do this on the breath-taking coast of Qingdao.

Qingdao Weather

I am here now since February this year. So, I could witness the change in weather and environment in Qingdao. I was freezing my “lower area of the back” off due to the famous “Qingdao-wind” in winter time. In summer time “Mediterranean” heat let me sweat Niagara Falls out of my body. A big thanks to the inventors of heaters and air conditioners!

Experiences in Qingdao

Although this may sound like advertisement for Air-con, Heaters and Qingdao, it is my utmost honest view of Qingdao. I am now looking forward on all the cool things that I will see and experience here. Why am I telling you this? The reason why is, that from now on, I will try to keep you guys updated and informed about these experiences. Don’t worry, I will not share the hilarious story of how I bought a bus ticket or the tremendously fascinating day when I was doing absolutely nothing.

Alfred standing on a boat in the Qingdao sea

The goal of my articles, blogging and scribbling will be to give you interesting insights in daily life here in Qingdao. As well as providing you with interesting news and hidden highlights.

I hope that the reading will give you an image of China, maybe inspire you or at least will make you sit in front of the screen smirking.

Cultural, Dalian Blogs, Things To Do in Dalian, Travel

A Day in Jinshitan – Things to Do

I have been living in Dalian for about 4 years, but most of the time, I stayed at a small northern part of Dalian, called Jinshitan. I know the area very well and know all the places to go to have some fun. As I know Jinshitan so well, I can take advantage of its beautiful scenery, great restaurants and other locations, where everyone can have a good time.

Dalian's Golden Pebble Beach Jinshitan
Golden Pebble Beach Jinshitan

When I think of this place, I think of the beach and the endless shoreline along it. It is a truly beautiful and a relaxing place to be around. When I have free time, I just go to the beach with my friends to play volleyball or frisbee. After enjoying the sunny day with my friends, it is good to just relax and lay on the sand at the beach, feel the breeze from the tides and get a tan. The beach in Jinshitan is big and lets everyone to enjoy the summer while playing games, sports or relaxing outside, which is one of the main reasons I love this place.

Things to do:

Another way to spend time in this area, by just walking around Jinshitan. Jinshitan is not a big place, but offers a lot of things that, downtown Dalian does not have. However, there is no doubt about that, walking along the beach is my favourite thing to do in Jinshitan. There are many other great attractions and activities for visitors and locals in Jinshitan, such as a hunting club, which is located near the end of the shoreline, where you can shoot clay pigeons or do paint ball with friends. The prices of these activities are affordable and it is definitely a place where I would go with my friends. There is a huge amusement park in Jinshitan, called Discoveryland and it is always filled with people during the summer. It is a very popular attraction both for locals and the visitors of Dalian.

There is also the Jinwan golf course and a soccer field in Jinshitan as well as many other activities and attractions, which can be enjoyed both by locals and tourists. There is also a hiking trail along the coast, which takes around two hours to walk. It is great for people who enjoy being outdoors and there is a beautiful sight along the way. Due to the low population of Jinshitan it is easy to get around and find the way to all attractions and restaurants. Anyone, who is looking for a place to have a have a getaway near Dalian, should visit Jinshitan as it is definitely the right place.

Dalian Hunting Club and Jinwan Private Golf Course
Hunting Club and Jinwan Golf Course

Some other popular activities and attractions in Jinshitan include the hot spring resort, which is wonderful, but the prices are also higher than other resorts in the area. However, it is located at an amazing area with good and clean environment and the hot spring resort is also very clean and worth a visit. There are some restaurants and street food markets nearby, which is very convenient, if the visitors of the hot spring resort would like to go for a tasty dinner after their relaxing time at the resort.

Clubbing / Dinning:

There is a newly opened club in Jinshitan, Soho916. It is a popular spot for young people from the local colleges and universities. The club has large parties on Thursdays and Fridays. There is great music provided by two DJs, one is from America and another from Peru. The club is located at the very northern part of Jinshitan, so people who would like to go to this club will need to take taxi or some other type of transportation.

Jinshitan is worth visiting just to try some of the food it offers. As I mentioned before Jinshitan is a small area, with not too many people and most of the local people live in the area near the Jinshitan hospital. However, the number of tourists increase during the main holiday season, making Jinshitan a popular holiday destination for domestic tourists as well as for some international visitors. In this area, there are many great and tasty food, my favourites, include some western restaurants and barbecue places. Toni Kocht is a very good German restaurant with very reasonable prices. The street at the jīn shí tān yī yuàn 金石滩医院 area, which has many barbecue places, is amazing and worth the visit. The food in Jinshitan is definitely worth trying.

To discover some of these attractions and many more, Apply Now!

Credit to 陈有健 (Jack Chen)

Travel

My Chengdu Experience

Even though I’ve only been in Chengdu for two weeks, I feel I’ve gotten a good grasp on what this city is about thanks to the endless activities and Chengdu knowledge offered to us by the InternChina team.
Good food and a good life with a splash of Baijiu – the local alcohol.

I was fortunate enough to come with 12 other interns from my University – the University of Sussex – who are all on the same program as me. Although it was nice to have people with you when coming to a new country, it is not essential for having a great time out here as there are over 50 other very friendly interns in Chengdu who make it very easy to settle in to life in such a foreign city. Especially since the InternChina team organise many events to get people together – you’re only alone if you want to be!

Heat and Rain in The Summertime

1st of July is the start of summer time in Chengdu but also roughly when the rainy season kicks off! So if you’re thinking of coming to Chengdu around this time expect average temperatures of 25-30 degrees celsius all the time and a heavy shower here and there, so always have an umbrella at hand as when it rains, it literally pours!

The Food

Noodles, noodles and more noodles! After the first couple days I felt I was getting a bit sick of the cuisine, but after that I started to crave the Sichuan peppercorn tingle (“Ma” as the locals call it) which I can only compare to millions of tiny insects rushing around your mouth – doesn’t sound appealing but trust me, it’s a weird sensation you won’t forget! The more you explore, the more you find and the more you enjoy, and I did! I was over the moon when I found a home comfort with a Chinese twang and the only acceptable form of a sandwich in Chengdu, the non deep friend guokui sandwich. It’s warm toasty thin bread with the cold oily filling sold me at first bite, just watch your clothes as that oil can get everywhere!

Hand holding Chinese sandwich Guokui from above
Pork Guokui Sandwich

If the Chinese cuisine doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are some home comforts available such as Subway, McDonalds and KFC. I can’t lie, I did crack a few times as something in the KFC window caught my eye, the Chizza, a pizza with a friend chicken base! I thought this was the greatest thing, a marriage of my two favourite foods, but unfortunately it was too good to be true, I was greatly disappointed as it lacked all the goodness of both foods so I had to divorce myself from the situation. This is the main reason I keep away from Western alternatives, a big bowl of delicious noodles sets you back a mere 8-12 RMB (around 1-1.4 GBP), a KFC can be 3-4 times the prices and most of the time not as good.

JiuZhaiGou

The first trip we went on as a group was to JiuZhaiGou, and what a trip it was! Starting off with a 15-hour coach journey to the UNESCO inscribed World Heritage site, which was painful but as with most things, is over at some point and everyone agreed it was very worth it when we arrived. Although the 20km hike the next morning sounded daunting, there would have been no better way to properly experience the breath-taking views and transparent lakes, I would do it all over again!

Panorama of lake in chinese village JiuZhaiGou
JiuZhaiGou

To learn more about JiuZhaiGou, click the link here.

So far I have been having a great time, and this program is, in my opinion, the best way to see this city. You get the complete package the social experience, the working life experience and you get to see in the cracks of the city and get a taste of what life really is about!

If you feel you’re up to it, join us and click here to apply!

Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Events in Qingdao, Food, Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao, Travel

About to graduate and confused?

May 4 Qingdao
May Fourth Square

Nothing is more daunting than the fact you are about to graduate and you have no concrete plans for the future. The questions that arise are; do I carry on with education and do a masters or do I take the plunge into real life by becoming a full time adult and start work as a graduate?? Well, that was my predicament until I came across InternChina. I applied for the marketing & business development position in the Qingdao branch and was offered the 3 months internship (yay!). Interning in China has given me the opportunity to gain great experience whilst figuring out my future plans!

Qingdao Coffee Street

On my arrival, I was picked up from the airport by one of my soon to be colleagues. She was incredibly welcoming and helped me settle in the shared apartment. What I like the most about the apartments in Qingdao is that they are graciously spacious yet have a very cosy vibe to them. My roommates are my fellow colleagues at the IC Qingdao branch, so it was great to be able to meet them outside of the ‘work’ environment. (I did find it rather humorous that each one of us were from a different European country, one Brit, one French and one German… it almost sounds like one of those bar jokes).

Qingdao Cafe
You think the coffee is cute? Wait until you come to Qingdao and check out the cafe’s decor, it looked like something out of Harry potter!

As I had never been to Qingdao before, my roommates took me out and introduced me to fellow individuals who are part of the InternChina programme but are interning at different companies. As we are all connected through InternChina it was very easy to get along and feel comfortable with one another. Plans for the weekend were discussed and I was thrown into the mix and was able to explore Qingdao with them all!

Qingdao Malatang
Ever tried Hotpot? Well this is sort of like that but the non soup version, aka DryPot or as it’s known in China, Malatang!

There are really cool cafes, bars and restaurants in China, so regardless of the city you’re in, you will always be able to find somewhere that is to your liking. The food is cheap and cheerful -some meals will cost you max 3 pounds (I can’t find the pound sign on my macbook sigh). Moreover, you can actually find food that is halal and great for vegetarians!

Essence Trend cafe in Qingdao
Cool cafe called Essence Trend in Qingdao, owned by one of our work colleagues!

Honestly, I have only been here a few days and already I have some ideas on what I wish to do once I get back to the U.K. It also helps to be around people from all over the world as it is a great way to broaden your horizon and learn more. So if you’re currently unsure and undecided, I would wholeheartedly recommend an internship (especially one in China).

To start your own internship adventure in China, apply now!

Discover Chinese culture, Featured Internships, Homestay Experience, Internship Experience, Learn about China, Qingdao Blogs

Engineering Internship and Homestay Experience

InternChina Qingdao dress up costumes
My name is Ingo, I am a student from Germany majoring in Business Administration & Engineering. Since mid-February I have been working as an intern at a British company in Qingdao. The company provides solutions for environmental protection using their purge and pressurization units to prevent dust, corrosives and other non-hazardous gases from contaminating electrical equipment installed in enclosures close to process applications. My task is to elaborate new functions in the enterprise resource planning system, elaborate and installing a shop-floor information system and support the factory supervisor. I am well integrated in the team and I am glad to have the chance to do an internship in Qingdao and in this company.

InternChina china qingdao building expo

For the duration of my stay in China I am living at a homestay family. It is a small Chinese family with a little child. The home of the family is in Shuan Shan area near a big mall and well connected to public transport. The latter is very important for me due to my daily commute to work. I get breakfast and dinner at the family. The breakfast is most of the time a Chinese kind of porridge, boiled eggs and fried bread. For dinner, I am mostly at the parents of my guest mother. There I get all varieties of Chinese food – her father is an excellent cook. Occasionally, my homestay family invites me to meet their friends or to go on a trip. Also, my guest family speaks very good English – to the detriment that my Chinese knowledge is still stagnating on a low level.

Qingdao is regarded as a holiday paradise. The city is located directly by the sea and has several beaches. Near the city, the Lao Shan Mountain is located, from which– depending on weather – a wide view over the whole region is possible.

I do not regret my decision to do an internship in China and I am looking forward to my four remaining months in Qingdao!

 

Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Food, Learn about China, Qingdao Blogs, Understanding Chinese culture

HAISHEN – A PORTRAIT OF QINGDAO’S MOST TREASURED SEA CREATURE

Hello hello!
So one thing that has caught my attention in the two weeks I have been living in the beautiful city of Qingdao are the large numbers of shops selling 海参 haishen – or sea cucumbers. Their English name is somewhat misleading, since sea cucumbers are certainly not cucumbers, let alone plants! In fact, they are animals that live in the Deep Seas and spend most of their day making their way slowly across the sea floor. So why are they so sought after here, and why would anyone pay up to 400RMB (around 60 Euros) for one single haishen?

Filled with curiosity, I recently ventured into one of the many shops specialised in selling haishen and was fortunate enough to meet Ms Qin, a sea cucumber expert who works at a store called “Di Yi Ming” (帝一铭). She was so kind as to enlighten me on several fascinating facts regarding haishen and also gave me the permission to take photos of the store and its products.

“Di Yi Ming” – which cleverly sounds like the expression for “number one” in Chinese, but is written with different characters – is located on Ningxia Lu in the southern part of Qingdao. Beautifully furnished with carved wooden shelves and a large Chinese style tea table in the middle of the room, it altogether feels more like a jewellery boutique than a shop selling sea cucumbers. But that is because here in Qingdao, sea cucumbers are regarded as treasures, with prices starting from 1800RMB (around 250 Euros) per jin (1 Chinese jin equals 500g) for the least expensive, and up to 11’800RMB (around 1600 Euros) for 1 jin of the most costly haishen.

Put differently, for the crème-de-la-crème, the price for one single haishen can go up to 400RMB (around 60 Euros). However, it is possible to get ones starting from a mere 10RMB per haishen. The price depends on which type of species the haishen in question is, and whether it was caught in the ocean or came from a farm.

The high wooden shelves are all filled with large glass jars – which in turn are all filled to the brim with dried haishen, waiting to be sold. Their appearance is somewhat underwhelming, at first sight it may be rather hard to understand why these small, dry, dark little knobbly sausages are in such high demand around here. However, after learning about the wide range of benefits that eating haishen can bring, I realized that they are not to be scoffed at. In fact, the medical benefits of haishen are mentioned in the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国药典), an official compendium of drugs that covers Traditional Chinese and western medicines, as well as in the Chinese Journal of Marine Drugs (中国海洋药物).

 

Here is just a small selection of the health benefits that eating haishen can provide:

  1. Enhances immunity, prevent colds, helps staying in good shape and not become tired easily
  2. Helps heal wounds quickly
  3. Helps with all kinds of stomach problems
  4. Helps lower high blood pressure
  5. Is good for the skin, as it helps keep it smooth and prevents wrinkles
  6. Enables better sleep
  7. Relieves back problems
  8. Keeps brain cells active and enhances faculty of memory

 

Ms Qin told me that she recommends her customers to eat one haishen per day and that on average, customers buy 1-2 jin (500g-1kg) of haishen per purchase. I asked her whether the store sells live sea cucumbers, but she told me that all haishen sold here are dried, because this way, their nutrition value is fully preserved, and they can be kept for a much longer time than if they were not dried. In fact, according to Ms Qin, in this dried state, the haishen can be kept for 3-5 years! A dry sea cucumber is approximately the size of your thumb, but before it is caught, it is actually rather large, about the size of your hand. When buying dried sea cucumbers, one needs to first let them soak in water for about 3-5 days before preparing them for eating.

 

Finally, I asked Ms Qin for her favourite haishen-recipes.

  • Sea cucumber porridge (海参粥)
    Sea cucumber porridge is a very nutritious breakfast. First, boil the rice until it is cooked, then add chopped sea cucumber into the porridge. According to your personal taste add a small amount of salt and sugar, also add a little ginger, then boil for 5 minutes. This way, the nutrition of the sea cucumber is retained, and the porridge is easy to digest.
  • Honey sea cucumber (蜂蜜海参)
    Sea cucumber dipped in honey is a very popular recipe because it is very easy, and best of all, the sea cucumbers nutritional value is very well preserved. Simply steam the sea cucumber and dip it into honey.

 

So, in case you want to experience the taste and health benefits of haishen for yourself, you now know how!

 

PS. Check out “Di Yi Ming” online: www.chinadiyiming.com (totally worth it!)

 

Chinese Traditions, Comparisons, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Eating Out in Chengdu, Eating out in Zhuhai, Food, Qingdao Eating Out Guide

Chinese Breakfast vs. Western Breakfast

One of the most notable differences between Chinese and Western cuisine is breakfast. When most westerners think of breakfast, images of toast, cereal, pastries, eggs, bacon, orange juice and coffee come to mind. In China, breakfast is a whole different ball game. A major difference in Chinese cuisine is the lack of dairy. Milk, cheese, butter and yogurt are not staples in Chinese cuisine and often aren’t readily available in smaller markets and grocery stores. So many Western breakfast staples aren’t eaten often here. Chinese breakfast is usually savory and people don’t shy away from stronger flavors such as preserved eggs, pickles, and spicy oil to eat first thing in the morning. Many people go out for breakfast and grab a quick bite to eat on the way to work or school. Street vendors will open up early to sell their goods to passing commuters – always at a very cheap price!
Below I’ve listed some of the most common breakfast foods in our cities. This, however, is only a sampling of what options are out there – especially for the more adventurous eaters. So get your taste buds ready, and before you know it you will be a Chinese breakfast convert!

粥  Zhōu (Congee)
Zhōu (congee) is a popular breakfast dish, which can be eaten all over China, but especially in southern China. Usually made of rice, although there are variations made with cornmeal, millet, sorghum, etc., zhōu is similar to oatmeal or porridge. Zhōu, however, is not sweetened and instead of adding sugar or fruit as a topping, popular toppings include zhàcài (pickled vegetables), salted eggs, soy sauce, and bamboo shoots to name a few. Yóutiáo, (long, deep fried dough) is often served as an accompaniment to zhōu.

InternChina – Zhou with Youtiao

馒头  Mántou (Steamed Buns)
Another very popular breakfast food in China is mántou. The classic mántou is white and made from wheat flour, though they come in various shapes and forms. Fresh from the steamer, mántou are soft and pillowy, and make for a great breakfast or midday snack. In northern China, often times mántou will be served with a meal instead of rice, and grilled mántou are one of my favorite street barbecue items.

InternChina – Mantou

包子、饺子  Bāozi, Jiǎozi (Steamed Bao, Dumplings)
Dumplings are also a classic Chinese breakfast. Bāozi are large steamed dumplings you can eat straight out of your hand. They are usually filled with minced meat or vegetables, though some have sausage, egg and other goodies inside. Jiǎozi are smaller steamed or boiled dumplings you eat with chopsticks and dip into a vinegar and soy sauce mixture – and of course as much spice as you want.

InternChina – Baozi

煎饼  Jiānbǐng (Fried Pancake Wrap)
Jiān bǐng is a common breakfast food that is popular all over China. Similar to a French crepe, jiān bǐng are always made to order, and usually filled with egg, hoisin sauce, chili paste, scallions and báocuì (fried, crispy cracker).

InternChina – Jianbing

肠粉  Chángfěn (Rice Noodle Roll)
Chángfěn is found in southern China – more specifically in the Guangdong province, and is definitely a staff favorite here in InternChina. For those lucky enough to be in Zhuhai, every morning you will walk past huge trays of steaming metal contraptions, with cooks churning out chángfěn faster than you can blink. Chángfěn is made from rice milk that is mixed with minced pork and egg, then steamed on large metal sheets. The resulting steamed rice noodle is then scraped onto a plate and covered in sweet soy sauce. Chángfěn may not sound appealing, and it definitely doesn’t win a beauty award, but is by far one of the best breakfast foods to be found in China! So if you’re coming to Zhuhai, make sure to give it a try.

InternChina – Changfen

And of course, no breakfast is complete without a cup of dòujiāng (豆浆), fresh warm soy milk, to go along with it!

Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Eating Out in Chengdu, Eating out in Zhuhai, Food, Qingdao Eating Out Guide

Using Chopsticks – why I’m a convert!

An estimated 33% of the world’s population (give or take) use chopsticks on a daily basis. For the hungry first time user, guzzling down your meal with two small wooden sticks can be a real challenge. Chopsticks might seem tricky to master and somewhat unnecessary for those of us that grew up with a plastic knife and fork in hand, so why have they come to dominate the culinary habits of much of Asia?
Chopsticks are over 5000 years old, long sticks of bamboo were first used to retrieve morsels of food from cooking pots on the fire. Later on, evidence of chopsticks used as table utensils emerged as far back as 500-400 AD. It’s said the spread of popular chopstick use across China was down to population boom and fuel shortages; food was chopped into smaller pieces in an attempt to make the meagre rations go further (thus eliminating the need for knives at the table). Whatever the reason, people in Japan and Korea soon followed the trend not far behind!

The ultimate legend of Chinese culture Confucius (or debatably perhaps his disciple Mengzi) added his own two cents on the matter too, which always helps. Apparently a firm believer that “the honourable and upright man keeps well away from both slaughterhouse and kitchen, and allows no knives on his table.” 有名望的和正直的人要远离屠场和厨房。

FUN FACT: Did you know that Confucius was a vegetarian?

I’m not ashamed to admit that after 3 years in China, I am a total convert. Using chopsticks makes me appreciate my food more. Whatsmore, the sociable side to Chinese dinning, sharing and array of mouth-watering dishes, picking out tasty tit-bits from any dish at will, never gets old.

So here goes, top facts you should know about different types of chopsticks:

THE CHINESE CHOPSTICK
InternChina - Chinese Chopsticks
Typically unfinished wood, slightly rectangular top with a cylindrical blunt end. Doesn’t roll off the table so easily and more surface area means you’ve got a higher chance or transferring those tasty morsels all the way from the middle of the table right to your bowl!
FUN FACT: It’s a faux-pas to tap your chopsticks on the edge of your bowl, as this is what beggars do to attract attention.

THE JAPANESE CHOPSTICK
InternChina - Japanese Chopsticks
Traditionally lacquered wood or bamboo, with a rounded top and a pointy end that’s perfect for de-boning fish. They’re a little bit smaller than the Chinese equivalent and you often find red pairs for the ladies and black ones for the gents.
FUN FACT: Never stick your chopsticks vertically into your rice bowl, it’s reminiscent of incense sticks at a funeral.

THE KOREAN CHOPSTICK
InternChina - Korean Chopsticks
The shortest model of the three, Korean chopsticks are usually stainless steel and flat or rectangular shaped. Potentially more hygienic but it definitely makes it harder to get a grip on your food!
FUN FACT: The king used pure silver chopsticks which would change colour if they came in contact with certain poisons. The people started using metal chopsticks to emulate him.

InternChina - chopstick inventions

Anyway, hope this can inspire you to pick up a pair of chopsticks and come to China yourself. Even if you struggle to start with new chopstick inventions are coming up every day, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest ‘Chork’ on the market!