Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Carrots and Tea

Food and beverages in China are extremely unique. One of the most fascinating aspects of dining out here is the tea experience. Most of the local restaurants here offer a wide selection of teas to choose from. Personally I am not much of a tea drinker but I am planning to visit a tea house soon just for the knowledge. I have a place in mind but I need to get geared up before I go there. One might wonder what there is to get geared up about tea. To that I say ‘this is China’. Usually during a local meal with business associates where I have to drink tea, I will go with the most kosher choice, which is a basic green tea, called CHA. They place these long bean-like leaves in the water and they all float at the top of the water in a vertical position. It is kind of weird the way they just stand at attention like that. Slowly they begin to settle on the bottom of the glass and that is when you can consume the beverage.

Many of the people I have dined with select what I guess is a chrysanthemum tea with flowers in it. Now that I think about it, it is mostly the ladies that drink this. The tea maid (yes they have a special lady just to sort out the tea, and I do not know what else to call her) places a hand full of flowers in a hot glass of water and sets it in front of the patron. This sounds good right? Well after about 15 minutes I start to notice something brown below the flowers. As the meal is progresses the brown thing gets bigger, and bigger. Pretty soon it looks like a big jelly fish. I am sure it is part of the plant or something but it just creep’s me out.

Presentation of food in China is also a pretty big deal. If I am not mistaken, the Chinese were one of the first people to actually decorate their food and even present a full meal as a form of art. I wish I could take more pictures of food during the meals but I would come off as a total freak if I did. Anyways most of it is pretty standard nowadays; however this carrot shrimp was pretty awesome. I love the detail in it. And the chef has even used some sort of white vegetable to create a coral reef. I love edible art.


Dino said...

The shrimp looks good enough to be put in my living room with the other souvenir. That must cost some money..

Anonymous said...

I believe 'CHA'means tea in mandarin :).
Anyway, nice blog.