The adventures of being vegetarian in China
You will certainly find a lot of food that is not meat based, but only if you ask the right way
It is past 9 pm and my sister and I are in a restaurant on Shanghai’s glittering high quality replica handbags china Nanjing Road, desperately explaining to the waiter that we are vegetarian. We have tried nine other places already, but have had no luck finding vegetarian fare and are almost resigned to sleeping on empty stomachs on our first evening in China.
“Chi su. Chi sou. Chee su,” my sister replica louis vuitton persists, as though saying it in different ways will somehow convey the meaning to 1:1 replica handbags the curious group of waiters gathered around us.
“Chh Su,” she says feebly, one last time.
Aaaa, squeals one of the restaurant staff excitedly, pointing to the far end of the room. We rush, imagining their vegetarian section is at that end, only to be confronted by the ladies bathroom. I want to go in and wail, but elder sibling is clearly made of sterner mettle.
The boys wait for us patiently, with smiles on their faces, but one look at our crestfallen faces and they know our “chi su” did high quality designer replica handbags not mean bathroom.
My sister miraculously spots bok choy, mushrooms, water chestnuts and broccoli on the ledge of the open kitchen, where the chefs are busy chopping, slicing and sauting.
“Chi su,” she mimes again, her eyes sparkling with an excitement that is clearly contagious, because the chef also does a celebratory jig, waving us to a table.
Ten minutes later our meal arrives: A huge dish of various kinds of meat in aaa replica designer handbags a fiery red sauce, in which also floated stray bits of high quality designer replica handbags wholesale mushroom, lotus stem and bok choy.
Nobody tries to stop us as we pick our tired backsides off the chair and flee.
“It is okay. Tomorrow is another day,” sibling tells me later, biting into a rather wrinkled apple in our hotel room.
Wandering around Xintiandi a bustling, charming locality with age old traditional Shikumen residences of yore we discover it is not that difficult for a vegetarian to get by in China. We are like two excited kids when we find ourselves swept along by the hordes of tourists who throng the uber chic street with its ancient vaulted stone doors that lead us down secret alleys full of the flavours of China. There, we greedily attack whole tender coconuts steamed and served with straws to slurp up the delicious hot water inside, and then proceed to eat the entire succulent shell. replica louis vuitton handbags We ignore the rows of kiosks serving all manner of Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags insects and animals on sticks satay style and zoom in instead on the fluffy baozi bursting with mushrooms and tofu, or red bean paste, or custard. The Chinese consume tofu and bean curd in dozens of ways whether it’s chunky tofu steaks with hoisin sauce, for instance, or the popular street food concoction of bean curd served in paper cones with generous lashings of fried garlic, spring onion and peanuts. Particularly memorable is the simple cheap replica handbags , home style meal at the vegetarian caf attached to the stunning Jade Buddha Temple, where we eat dumplings, noodles, a couple of mock meat cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk dishes made of mushroom and tofu, before leaving satiated.
There are the other things veggie that we gorge on, too. Though I initially baulk on seeing a container full of eggs soaking in an infusion of black tea and spices a popular night market staple I am tempted on seeing most folks picking it at the buffet. Packed with the flavours of five spices, dried replica louis vuitton bags fruit peel and black tea, it’s unlike anything I have ever tasted before and I’m still not sure I like it.
Another street food favourite of ours is the kaobaishu or sweet potato roasted in its skin, served as guilt free dessert, as we walk endlessly from one tourist attraction to another.
It is only when we meet Candy, our bubbly English speaking guide in Beijing, that the mystery of my sister’s failed “chi su” act is resolved.
At lunch one day, Candy, seated with us, turns a shade of pink when my sister loudly tells the waiter, “chi su”, and repeats it louder when he looks at us blankly and sidles away.
“Do you want to go to the bathroom,” Candy asks the sibling.
“No, why?” sibling replies.
“Well, chi su means bathroom high quality replica handbags china ,” Candy deadpans before bursting into laughter. “What were you meaning to ask the fake louis bag waiter?”
“I was trying to tell him we are vegetarians.”
“That would be Wo chi su,” she says, laughing some more. “A toilet is csuo.”
Be that as it may, my sis, to her great credit, helps us splendidly manage our Chinese vacation on the wings of the few key words she had learnt.
“Tai gui le,” she says dismissively when bargaining at a store stocking knock offs of branded bags Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags , shoes, glasses and clothes. Miraculously, we walk away with our purchases for less than half the quoted price.
“Xie xie,” she thanks the staff, when they offer her a glass of shui (water, pronounced ‘shwey’).
Later, her stern “bu yao” (don’t want) shoos away a pesky guy who chases us on the street with the offer of 15 Louis Vuitton purses for a grand sum of 100 yuans (one yuan is roughly 10.35).