Warmest greetings from the Far East! Yes, I can finally let the cat out of the bag – or at the very least poke its paws and tail out a bit – and let you know where I’ve been for the past few weeks, and what I’ve been up to since I’ve been there.
Since I left the home comforts of London, I’ve been travelling around China, presenting an exciting new cookery series. Not just for my own amusement, you understand, but one that will be broadcast on television. Yes, you read that correctly. Actual television! I still can’t quite believe it myself. I can’t divulge too many of the details as present, but I can feed you a few tasty morsels.
I share screen time with two other chefs, each of whom has become a very good friend over the past weeks. It’s funny how close people become when they are working day in, day out in a new country. If, like me, you struggle with a culture who do not use a Roman alphabet and who seem to speak twenty words between each breath, you will latch onto anything and anyone who seems at all friendly.
Although the theme of the show is cooking connected to the “Silk Road”, I have been afforded the privilege of seeing and experiencing a wide variety of what China has to offer. I have seen the sights most tourists would pay a great deal of money to see, but I have also been led off the beaten path to the more unusual nooks and crannies which your average traveller would overlook. I have to say that I have been disappointed, surprised and overwhelmed in equal measures. When you are a fish out of water – a very tired and emotional fish – it is as if your senses have been perceptibly heightened, and you are more attuned to joy and sadness than if you were visiting something as comparatively mundane as, say, the London Eye. China, in short, is spectacular. I am blown away daily by how one country can contain so many different walks of life: there is great affluence and there is great poverty; there is an incredibly rich history and there are new technological beginnings; there is the hectic thrum of the city, and there is the gentle chirp of the country. It would take me a lifetime to view it all, never mind the time that would be required to process it all afterwards.
And as for the food… well, let’s just say my tastebuds have been delighted and assaulted in equal measure. I have eaten things I never thought I would eat, some of which I shall pine for when I return to England, and others – well, there are things which should never be allowed near a menu, as far as I’m concerned.
I have so much more to tell, but I am wary of boring you too much with my travelogues. Once I start the ball rolling, I don’t know when to stop. Therefore, I’m going to start posting regular, bite-sized travelogues from China. Short, sharp, sweet and sour portions from the other corner of the world.