I’m pretty sure J. Alfred Prufrock was visiting China as he thought this….especially if he were with his totally-gone-native daughter, who thought nothing of buying bags of fruit at bus stops and rinsing them with a hose before consuming them. I did my best to hold back…..
Before leaving for China, we were strictly warned against eating. I mean, we were cautioned to eat only foods that were cooked thoroughly, “piping hot” when we received them, and served in a restaurant or home. Raw foods that could not be peeled were out of the question; street food was potentially toxic. Thinking back to my two previous trips to Hong Kong, and remembering how I got sick both times (once from street food, for sure, and the other time – who knows?) I resolved to stick to that advice even if I missed out on some wonderful cultural experiences. With that in mind, I arrived in China lugging instant oatmeal, Clif bars, and trail mix. Between all that and rice/crackers/peanut butter/bananas, I figured, I’d be fine. (We never did find peanut butter.)
My husband and his brother, though, were both more intrepid and hungrier than I was. Here they are on our second day in China, already breakfasting on street food outside the Kunming East Bus Station.
UD and PM also ate at an open-air kitchen along the Cangshan Mountain path above Dali:
I did eat bowdze, steamed buns either plain or filled. These spicy potatoes and onions in the center. We couldn’t always find vegetarian ones, especially up in the Tibet region.
The first crack in my armor came in Shaxi, where we stayed at Horsepen 46, a wonderful guesthouse/hostel. The owner and longtime guests regularly prepare dinner, and someone had prepared a salad. The greens had been washed with boiled water, or spring water, but they were raw, right? Encouraged to believe that this would be the safest place to try such a daring adventure, I ate the delicious salad and was totally fine.
At the Shaxi market, they had some mangosteens imported from Burma. I had never tried them, and always wanted to……
Some street food seemed sorta safe, and I did consume things that were submerged in hot oil….
Once I decided to eat a bit more adventurously, I did eat one type of raw dish more than any other. It was a cold cucumber salad, liberally doused with vinegar and hot pepper.
I ate it in several establishments, and eventually did get sick. But I can’t be sure it was the salad…. it could have been that peach.