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Burning (m)Eats and Yanjing
2011.05.18
We’ve been hanging out with a contingent of Norwegian students who are working in Caochangdi this summer. Lately, we’ve been trading party invitations at our respective studios: Us at our Friday Burning (m)Eats sessions, and them for their national holidays. Norwegian Independence Day, much like the American version, is an all-day drinking festival with lots of meat, sides, and conversation. We weren’t able to have the salmon dinner traditionally served on the 17th of May, but a few bottles of akvavit were reserved for the occasion. By the time we arrived for lunch, we were already four hours behind our hosts.


A Beijing party isn’t complete unless it includes Yanjing, the local beer of choice, and baiju, a nearly flammable rice wine. Both have been in abundance at our recent gatherings. Other than those staples of local cuisine, I’ve been eating a lot of food from the village street vendors that are both delicious and cheap. Tonight’s dinner, for example, included two chicken skewers deep-fried on the spot, a bag of noodles, and an ice cream (the Good Humor variety) for 8 RMB (about $1.33). Going upscale often means heading to the Fodder Factory, a local restaurant run by our local contact and Mandarin instructor. The spiced duck is delicious, and caramelized sweet potatoes may be my new favorite desert. Walking away stuffed, with a Yanjing or two to boot will only run you about $12. It’s not bad living.

To date I’ve consumed only a few things out of the ordinary. Donkey dumplings were tasty, but not distinct. Pork intestines cooked in a traditional Chinese dish were delicious. Saliva chicken was supposed to be savory but left me wondering if someone had spit it in. Frog was unotable, but I’m guessing it’s better in the South. Sheep’s neck is my current badge of honor, but given the culinary inclinations of my travel companions, it will soon be outdone.

That said, sometimes a man needs a salad.