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Every amazing, strange, and delicious food I tried during an epic 6-week trip to China

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With 1.3 billion people and 56 ethnic groups, China has one of the most complex and diverse cuisines in the world.
Dozens of different regional cuisines are drastically different from one another with different flavor profiles, ingredients, and cooking methods.
On a recent six-week trip to China, I tried to eat as many different dishes in the country as possible, tasting everything from Peking Duck to Shaanxi fried squid.

I’m not ashamed to call myself a foodie. The term has become wildly overused, abused, and then derided in recent years, but I take it to mean someone who is genuinely interested in the world’s multivarious cuisines.

Think less latest brunch spot for avocado toast — though there’s nothing wrong with that — and more hole-in-the-wall family-run joint.

You can imagine, as I was planning a six-week trip to China to report on the tech industry and travel for Business Insider, the thing I was most excited for was the food.

Chinese food is considered to be one of the most complex and diverse cuisines in the world by chefs, food critics, and travelers. Americans, and the rest of the West, tend to think of China as one monolithic place, but the opposite is true. China is comprised of over 1.3 billion people, 23 provinces, 56 ethnic groups, and at least as many different cuisines. Libraries-worth of books have been written simply on China’s food.

Each cuisine has different flavor profiles, hallmark ingredients, and cooking methods. Sweet and sour is a common taste in Shanghainese cuisine, while Szechuan food is known for its extensive use of the numbing peppercorn of the same name. Steaming is extremely popular in Cantonese cuisine, while a number of western and northern regions boil dishes in a “hot pot.” As you can probably guess, none of those hot pots taste remotely similar.

The cuisine is so diverse and specific that it is not uncommon for a particular county or town to be famous for a single dish that is not made anywhere else in the country.

During my time in China, I tried to eat as widely as possible, eating the same dish twice only if absolutely necessary. Still, I found that I had barely scratched the surface.

Needless to say you, can forget about Americanized dishes like lo mein, General Tso’s chicken, and egg rolls, because those items have only a tangential relationship to actual Chinese food.

Here is everything I ate in six weeks in China:

I flew into Hong Kong in southeastern China. Hong Kong is known for having a robust street food scene. I started with a beef skewer cooked in chili-garlic sauce. The vendor also sold more adventurous skewers like squid and pork intestines, but I was just getting warmed up.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
Cantonese food (i.e. Hong Kong and neighboring Guangdong province) is typically associated with siu mei, or rotisserie roast meats. This roast goose is marinated in soy-garlic sauce and served with peanuts. Its skin is crispy and the meat is juicy.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
On the second day of my trip, I headed to Macau for the opening of the MGM Cotai, a swanky new casino-resort. At Five-Foot Road, I ate Szechuan cuisine, known for its spicy, garlicky flavors and the use of the numbing Szechuan peppercorn.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

You can read all about my adventure at the MGM Cotai — which is trying to change the perception of Macau as a city for the super-rich — here »

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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DON’T MISS: Photos reveal what it’s like to shop at Walmart in China — which is shockingly different from the US and struggling to compete


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