Noodles or Peanut Butter?

Everyone needs to have take  comfort food with them when they travel. According to this story, the comfort food of choice for Chinese travelers is instant noodles.

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A recent survey showed that more than 30% make sure they have a supply of instant noodles with them when they travel:

The practice is popular among both people making 5,000 yuan ($750) a month and those making 20,000 yuan a month, according to the findings.

The habit persists in China even though president Xi Jinping in 2014 asked citizens (paywall) to eat fewer instant noodles abroad, and sample more of the local cuisine. In 2013, a Maldives in hotel reportedly stopped installing kettles in its rooms to stop Chinese tourists from cooking noodles in their rooms instead of spending money on food in the hotel.

Noodles need side dishes, naturally, so tourists are also bringing pickled vegetables, sausages, and chili sauce with them, said the survey.

When I travel, there are certain comfort food items that always make it into my suitcase:
  • Peanut butter. Like any good American, I can face anything as long as I have access to peanut butter.
  • Granola bars; preferably Quaker Oats chocolate chip and Nature Valley honey and oats. If you’ve got a granola bar, you’ve got lunch!
  • Almonds. I like all kinds of almonds, but raw almonds are the best!
What about you? What food items are essential for you when you travel?

 

Image credit: Andrew Smith, via Flickr

 

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Butter Chicken on I-80

Butter Chicken on I-80

If you’ve ever driven across Nebraska on I-80 looking for something to eat, you probably found yourself facing a choice among all the fast food standby’s that are clustered around the exits.

But if you’re looking for something different, take Exit 248 (near Overton), and head to the gas station/convenience store on the north side of the freeway called Jay Bros. There  you’ll find a fantastic Indian restaurant run by a family from Gujarat, India.

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A few months back I had read about the place on the travel blog Roads and Kingdoms in a post titled Screw the Rules, Eat at the Indian Restaurant Inside the Gas Station.

Last week my sister and I took my mother on a road trip to Colorado so she could visit with friends that she has known since she was a child. We decided to check the place out. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. We had a fantastic lunch, and my mom was even able to use a bit of her Urdu with the owner.

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So the next time you are driving across Nebraska and want to eat something other than a burger, head to the gas station/Indian restaurant at Exit 248 for some butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, and naan. You will NOT be disappointed!

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Beijing Eats

Bear with me for just one last post on the great food that I ate in Beijing earlier this month. You may want to protect your keyboard from drooling.

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One of my favorite dishes is called ma la xiang guo (hot and spicy dry hot pot). You choose the ingredients, and the chef stir fries them up. Those are peppers, not tomatoes. Don’t worry, this was a dish for 2 people!

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Home-made jiaozi, lovingly “wrapped” by a friend, waiting to be boiled. Yum!

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If you can’t get to a friend’s house for home-made jiaozi, not to worry; there’s usually a mom a pop shop nearby that makes delicious jiaozi and baozi.

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Not all meals in China are created equal. One day Amy and I found ourselves dining in the cafeteria of a large company. The food wasn’t that bad; it just never tastes as good when served on a metal tray!

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And finally, I stopped into one of my favorite American burger joints, Fatburger. I’ve never been to one in the US, but it serves up a great plate of comfort food in Beijing!

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Curry, Anyone?

I’m a little late to this story Why Three Curries a Week Could Lower Risk of Death, published in The Telegraph back in August. But the way I see it, it’s never to late to highlight the awesomeness of my favorite food: curry!

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Here’s the lede:

Curry really could be the spice of life after scientists discovered that eating hot food regularly can lower the risk of dying prematurely.

A study of nearly 500,000 Chinese people over seven years found that those who ate spicy food three times a week cut their risk of dying by 14 per cent compared with people who abstained.

Works for me!

Image credit: chicken curry, by Lynac, via Flickr

Better Than a Sandwich

I have some friends from Beijing visiting for a couple of weeks, which is always a rip-roaring good time. One of the fun (and sometimes challenging) things is keeping them well-fed. They are not enamored with a lot of American food, so I’ve been trying to make sure they get a Chinese meal in every other day or so. We all know about comfort food, right?

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Last week, my sister and I took them to Leann Chin, a local “Chinese” fast-food place for their much-needed fix. My sister loves the place, but I am not a fan. It is, however, cheap and fast and the food is stir-fried so I suspected they would be satisfied. Bad Chinese food is better than good western food, right?

As they were (happily) eating, I asked the husband (who is a bit of a foodie) what he thought of the food.

He stopped eating his noodles, and looked up at me… “Better than a sandwich,” he said, smiling.

Now, whenever I need to keep him in line I threaten to make him eat a sandwich!

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Image credit: Jeffryw, via Flickr

Some Like it Hot

And some like it really hot. For those of you who are in that category, there’s a new noodle restaurant in Beijing that claims to have the spiciest bowl of noodles in the world.

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Within China, there’s an age-old argument over which province has the spiciest food. There’s an old saying that “Guizhou people like spiciness, Sichuan people don’t fear spiciness, and Hunan people fear there is no spiciness.”

Fu Niu Tang, a recently opened beef noodle restaurant in Beijing, is trying to take the spicy crown for Hunan. It claims to have the world’s spiciest rice noodles and is challenging patrons to finish a bowl of the signature dish in 10 minutes. Those who can finish the task are awarded with a T-shirt and a card that entitles them to a permanent 10% discount.

The restaurant says the hot sauce for its rice noodles is 125 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

The Wall Street Journal visited the noodle shop and filmed one of only 15 who have eaten an entire bowl of the flaming noodles in under ten minutes. Enjoy:

(if you receive this post by email and cannot see the video, click here.)

One thing is certain; the next time I’m in Beijing, I’m going to check this place out.

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Image source: The Wall Street Journal 

The Salad Towers of Asia

Raise your hand if you’ve been to a Pizza Hut in Asia. If so, then you have no doubt been witness to the amazing skill of many Asian diners (particularly in China) in getting their money’s worth out of that one trip to the salad bar. Half the fun of going to a Pizza Hut used to be watching salad builders work their magic to produce things like this:

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These photos are from the website Kataku, which recently published an article about these so-called “salad towers,” noting how they have led to the demise of salad bars in Pizza Huts in China. When you order a salad now, they just bring a small salad to your table.

Can you blame them?

And now for some extra fun, here’s a video clip of one being built (email readers, go here to view):

Image source: kotaku.com