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By Laura Stec

You Ate What?

Uploaded: Apr 24, 2015

Ni hao. Just got back from China (Shanghai and Beijing) last night. What a fascinating trip.

I didn't drink the tap water. Surprising to me, most Chinese people don't either. So hats off to the Chinese government for announcing this week on Earth Day, plans to cleanup the "black and lousy" water found in the urban areas, albeit by 2030. I don't get who the Chinese government IS by the way. Who decided they could be in charge? And are they all over the streets to protect the people or themselves? It's a different world over there.

I did eat the street food and it was some of the best I had. Street vendors are the ultimate popup restaurants. If you are traveling soon, here's two suggestions from Friday Night Market guides at Untour Shanghai:

1) Eat only the hot food, cooked while you are watching.

2) Watch out for old cooking oil (or stay away from fried foods in general).

The night tour was terrific. Do it if you go to Shanghai, and consider going. China is enchanting. There are still few Westerners which makes it fun. And wild. And new. Many people ask for a picture with you. I started taking selfies with people wanting my picture.

Back to food, using Google Translates "vegetarian please," I ate dishes I would have never known about. The street chefs always laughed when I showed them my phone, but proceeded to cook up some great food.

Like this:

Grilled lotus root and potatoes

Roasted chestnuts

Shanghai tofu

Grilled vegetables wrapped in fish skin.

Fried Scorpions

Locusts and ? What did they taste like? I only had the guts to munch a scorpion leg - it tasted "deep fried."

The best thing I ate was a "veggie crunch wrap." It starts with a crepe of wheat batter:

Crack a few eggs...

Cover with the secret sauce and add what I thought was deep fried tofu, but a local told me it was fried wheat batter...

Add in some green onions and other fresh herbs, then wrap it up. YUM! I went back the next night and ordered another like a local. Cost 5 RMB or approximately 83 cents.

So after 10 days of Chinese food in China, I admit, I like the Chinese food better here than there. Maybe because Chinese there depends on meats and fish as the primary seasoning, with repetitive visits from soy, ginger, toasted sesame, green onion, star anise / 5-spice and maybe peppers and garlic. Oh, and MSG. Added freely. I need more variation. Maybe I should stick with traveling the spice route?

Eat or be eaten - do these look like what you ate?