It’s amazing what one forgets about the Far East when they have not visited for a few months. It’s the little things, the sounds and smells that all of a sudden after landing are as familiar as the sight of the fields where I go home to our family farm in Northern Ireland. I’m back in China for a very busy trip, but I wish this jet-lag would go away. It’s 2 am and as Elton sang ‘good morning to the night‘. It’s 6pm at home in Blighty and my body feels it’s there.
It’s the chopsticks that always get me. Don’t get me wrong, I can use them, the wooden ones that is, break them in half, rub one against each other to remove the splinters and eat, praying the ‘lazy Suzan’ is not too fast. Arriving into Beijing at noon, hungry as the Lufthansa smorgasbord was not to my liking I found a restaurant, the food was good the chopsticks metal. They slip off each other when eating, not like the wooden ones, metal and plastic chopsticks are not for the beginner. Jet-lagged, hungry and not a Yorkshire Pudding in sight. I was back in China and I had missed this place since my last trip in September last year. It’s a busy trip for me, and I will explain more later in coming blogs.
There is nothing nicer when you come off a long haul flight than seeing a friendly face. Simon Lui from East Eat magazine was waiting for me at Beijing Airport. East Eat is one of the biggest food magazines in China. They print in the millions of copies every month. There are a lot of people over here. I know people in the UK find the numbers hard to believe in China, but they are reality. I have no Google here, Facebook and Twitter even with a VPN are sporadic, it’s China and it’s not a place to be judged or indeed constrained by Western standards. I don’t find it easy coming here, but when I arrive I feel I’m with an old friend; familiar yet there is a distance as we have not seen each other in a bit. China, it’s good to catch up with you again my friend, you have always been good to me.
So, it’s 2 am Beijing time, 6pm UK. I’m wide awake, Jet-Lag Jimmy has come out to play and I don’t like him. So I ordered room service, even though there is an English menu in my room translating it to a Chinese operative is not easy, granted, their English is better than my Mandarin. When is Rome and all that… I ordered the Penne Bolognese, I know the resulting dish will contain neither of what I have pictorially in my head. A tomato pasta arrived with a separate bowl of meat to put on top. At least the ‘penne’ was ‘penne’ on this trip, last time it was jellyfish noodles.
Simon and his parents invited me for dinner to Da Dong. My stomach after flying not ready for gastronomy, I picked my way through the meal of the century. I have known Chef Da Dong for years, he’s Mongolian, a giant in stature even to the Western man. Famed for making the best Peking Duck in the world, his molecular gastronomy is something else. Peking duck in Peking. And the best one at that. Heston Blumenthal has even flown to Beijing to feature Da Dong’s Peking Duck. Dinner finished with ice-cream made at the table using liquid nitrogen. The cold white air blows out of your mouth when eating it. Who ever said there are no dragons in China?
For more information on ‘James in China’ click HERE