Chinese Food Diary

25th October 2019

“In China there will certainly be enough food for you – rice, vegetables and soy sauce can be found everywhere!” – these and many similar encouragements were heard before the trip, when one spoke about his concerns about the culinary culture of the country. With a little bit of fear, but also great curiosity, we all wondered what the next weeks would bring.

When we arrived in Ningbo, it quickly turned out that most western ideas about Chinese food did not correspond to reality. That there was no “menu: Chicken-sweet-sour” was the lesser evil. Especially vegetarians and vegans have a very hard time there.

In most cases it is virtually impossible without Chinese language skills to order a meal that does not contain meat. So far we had to double and triple make sure that we could not find any kind of animal on the plate.

Even our old-established meat lovers had to be careful that they did not accidentally get innards, glands or dried blood served up. However, this was not the only taste culture shock, as it turned out later.

Breakfasts are also more exciting here than expected. The Chinese mainly eat warm and hearty 3 times a day. Only rice cake can be found here – if you search long enough for it.

Our rescue: Hot-Pot! For Klara and me so far probably one of the best discoveries. The Hot-Pot can be compared to a vegetable soup, but tastes much better (Sorry Mama!!).

Since you can put together the Hot Pot yourself, it is of course very easy for us to make a vegetarian or vegan variant of it. Pak Choi, Choi Sum, Lotus, Coriander, Bamboo shoots and rice noodles are only one of the many fresh ingredients for our “Pot”. If you didn’t know better, you would think that 98% of our water already consists of soup water – the other 2% is tofu. But even tofu is not the same as tofu – by mistake we found tofu with pureed fish in our bowl.

Of course we also tried things at traditional food stands. Here you really don’t have to worry about hygiene: everything is freshly prepared and can be bought for little money. But we did not find any locusts or worms.

It’s a little easier in Shanghai – the metropolis of course has a lot to offer when it comes to western food. Here we actually got an avocado bread, porridge and oat cappuccino for breakfast.

Even though we are not a big fan of Starbucks, we did not miss to visit the biggest Starbucks in the world: Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
Here you can really find everything your heart desires. In addition to various coffee and tea bars, live roasting and countless souvenirs, we were even able to drink various cocktails of expresso and tea – a perfect brand experience.

But our personal highlight was the Masala Art – an Indian restaurant in the middle of Shanghai. There we ate for the first time in 14 days with knife and fork.

The time here is a very personal challenge. One becomes aware that the vegetable diet is not yet as pronounced in all parts of the world as for example in Europe. A large part of the population simply does not understand why one does not want to eat animals.
We accepted that and stopped explaining it to ourselves after a few days. Finally, we can say that it is definitely possible to find something in China that tastes good, even with more specific eating habits. Of course, the meals here are more monotonous than at home. Thus, one is even happy when one can eat the first dry bun after eternities. But if you have asked yourself a little through here, there is also a lot of tasty food that we will definitely miss in Germany.

Jennifer Leewis

Selina Ohl

Brand Management B.A.
3. Semester