Now that I'm officially back into the swing of things, a lot of people have been asking me what my favorite part of being in China was. I have a few favorites... The people come first. My favorite part of my trip was definitely the great people I met while staying in Chongqing. I never felt more welcomed in my life! My second favorite part was definitely the food! I LOVE authentic Chinese cuisine. Not the overly-breaded, fried crap they typically serve here in the States, but the fresh, multi-colored, multi-dimensional taste explosions they serve up throughout China. Not one Chinese person I asked knew what Kung-Pao or General Tsao's chicken was! Chinese fortune cookies? Nope, not from China. Our version of Chinese food sucks!
The last time I went to China (last year) I was ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of eating gluten-free in the Middle Kingdom. I didn't think about soy sauce, or MSG (which doesn't always have gluten in it, but is an overall caustic substance), and wasn't yet aware that McDonald's fries have wheat in them! I know, it sounds crazy but it's true! Look up the ingredients on their website if you don't believe me. Anyways... since I wasn't prepared I got sick. Actually real sick, with blood in the toilet and two migraines before I boarded the plane to go home. I know I know, TMI.
However, this time with a little help from my good friend Shen Xu, I was ready. Shen typed up a statement that lets Chinese cooks know exactly what gluten is, why people with Celiac Disease can't have it, and some common hidden sources of gluten (i.e., soy sauce and MSG). She also typed up a statement for our friend Melanie who not only has to avoid gluten but also pork, eggplant, dairy and strawberries. I published them both on Scribed so if you're going to China or know anyone with gluten issues that is, make sure to take these: Chinese Gluten Warning / Multiple Allergy Warnings.
With a bottle of Braggs Liquid Aminos (a tasty and super healthy alternative to commercial soy sauce), multiple copies of my gluten-warning statement, a couple of bottles of Gluten-Zyme, an Activated Charcoal Tablets, I had a much better go at eating well in China this time around. I ate a lot of great food, and didn't become glutenated once:) At least not bad enough for me to notice.
My plane ride there was pure hell. As luck would have it, I sat a few rows behind three sick and miserable newborns that cried the entire 13 hours to Beijing. I didn't sleep at all the entire flight, and ended up catching whatever those kids had. My two days in Beijing were physically miserable, but experientially awesome! The very first night I wandered alleyways filled with food vendors selling every kind of living creature skewered on a stick, fried in boiling oil, and doused with hot pepper sauce. I ordered a few servings of squid on a stick, some spicy chicken, and whole mini-fish, eyeballs and all:) Although it was hard to do, I passed on the secada bugs and squirming scorpions. Maybe next time.
The next day, after a large buffet of "Western Breakfast Food," we went to the Great Wall. This was my third climb on the Wall, and each time was a different section. I've loved them all! I don't think I'll ever get bored of scaling those countless steps snaking their way across treacherous terrain like the spine of a water-dragon. The Great Wall of China is truly an awesome sight to behold:) If you haven't been there yet, you are seriously missing out. Do it!!!