I was watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman on the Travel channel. The episode focused on traditional and exotic foods in China. According to Andrew Zimmerman, "Chinese cuisine is diverse and regionally inspired." Beijing one of the largest cities is the best place to experience all culinary worlds of China.
After watching the episode here are some of the things I learned.
China and Beijing for that matter is famous for it's open air food markets.These market abound with some of the most traditional yet exotic foods. One market served served nearly everything on skewers! Walk down this market and all you'll see is crowds of people eating skewers. They serve everything from cicada and grasshopper skewers to squid skewers. On interesting option was seahorse skewers.
Another night market called don wei ming market specialized in a variety of sea specialities. Though they did offer noodles made to order, they also served some unconventional options. One thing that stood out to me, were raw sea urchins. These things are cut in half raw and then drenched in mustard oil. One eats the eggs found inside the urchin. Andrew then tried some barbecue eel and a black fungus pork shoulder wrap. One thing for sure, there was no general chicken!
But this wasn't even close to the end of Andrew's adventure. One of the most popular local foods is donkey because it is easy to raise and yields high quality meat. One restaurant served donkey tail, donkey skin stir fry, and donkey stew with broth that has been cooking in a pot for seven years!
Finally Andrew Zimmerman stopped at an imperial restaurant. Apparently, these restaurants serve the most authentic food. He tried a variety of authentic dishes ranging from sea cucumbers to shark fin and even camel paws. (Left: Sea cucumber)
Seems to me like the only thing in common between American Chinese food and authentic chinese food is soy sauce!