Raw veggies, bread and Wurst

Y is different from most Chinese I know. Well, I know, of course he is – to me, right? What I mean is that his eating habits are different from most other Chinese people I know. He loves eating raw vegetables. He had never been to Europe before our wedding, but he still loved eating raw veggies (before we went to Europe, that is). Now you have to know that most Chinese don’t eat raw veggies, and even I, a person who is crazy for salads, don’t eat them in Southern China. When we did finally make it to Austria for our wedding, it really didn’t matter too much what we had for lunch or dinner, as long as there was salad, everything was okay for Y.

When I saw him eating raw veggies for the first time, I was surprised. He told me that in Northeast China people do actually eat veggies raw. When we went there in the summer of 2013, I could see for myself. For every meal we ate, there was one plate with raw veggies. They had them all – salads (without the dressings we use, but with a salty soy-bean-dip), carrots, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers. People love eating small cucumbers here. If you travel around Northeast China’s Jilin province, they’ll sell them as snacks and I can tell you, they do have a great taste, one that seems to be slightly more refined than that of Austrian cucumbers.

Except for raw veggies, my husband loves eating breads. And yes, he also loved eating breads before we met. Not the fluffy ones they sell in Chinese-style bakeries here, but real bread, similar to the one we’d eat in Austria (of course, Austrian-style bread is hard to find in China, but Y has introduced me to Olé, a supermarket in Shenzhen that sells acceptable bread and I have yet to check out a bakery here that has an Austrian baker). I hadn’t been eating bread in China at all. For an Austrian, or probably most Europeans from Central Europe, bread is definitely the number one food we’ll miss in China. But then I met my husband and he just loves eating bread, so it’s become one of our must-buy-on-a-regular-basis shopping items.

When we traveled around Northeast China, I saw people eating bread (well, the fluffy Chinese-style ones) with cucumbers and Wurst. Wurst? I knew they have hams and the like in China, but I never really got used to the slightly sweet flavor of these meats. But in Northeast China they do have Wurst with a flavor that tastes just the same as one kind that you can buy in Austria. Y once bought one at Olé that wasn’t as expensive as all the imported ones. When I wondered why, he told me that this is Chinese Wurst. Wurst from Northeast China, to be exact.

It’s funny how sometimes you think that your eating habits are so different while actually they are not. Y might not eat sweet things, he might eat much more sea food than we do in Austria, but he’s still able to find lots of comfort foods in Austria. And he has made me find some comfort foods in China too.

Do you sometimes miss your home country’s cuisine? How do you deal with it? I’d love to read about your experience.

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9 thoughts on “Raw veggies, bread and Wurst

  1. he surely is different 🙂 my husband is used to non-Chinese cuisine since he was abroad for so long but it’s really hard to find someone who really enjoys the western food there before coming there, my husband laugh that people in HK hate all those pasta, bread etc. but they will eat them just to be ‘more classy than eating with chopsticks, unless it’s sushi’ haha 🙂 but if you offer my husband’s family a raw food they will look at you like some kind of barbarian 🙂 here in America people can easily find good Chinese food but for my Polish cuisine I would have to go to Chicago or something and bread… it cannot even be called a bread, just horrible sugar-sponge :/ but I think you have even worse if you come here to find your home-taste 🙂

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    • That’s exactly the thing, raw food is normal for him (although I have to say that it’s more of a side dish in Northeast China and people still think you should mainly eat hot dishes). Many Chinese people from areas other than Northeast China still think he’s crazy for eating raw vegetables (and more often than not they think he eats them because of my influence, which is not true at all). Sugar-sponge, sounds delicious :D.

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  2. When I went to Hong Kong, I struggled so much with food. I couldn’t cope with the lack of bread! I live on bread! It’s lucky that a lot of the supermarkets have British food so I was able to get lots of snacks and I did find some “British bread” so I could make myself some sandwiches for lunch. I couldn’t find much I liked at all in restaurants, but saying that I am super fussy when it comes to food.

    I found it really weird that my boyfriend didn’t use to like bread (until I introduced him to the world of sandwiches). He also finds it very hard to eat a meal that isn’t warm.

    On the subject of vegetables, not quite raw, but I have found that my boyfriends family don’t cook vegetables for very long. For example they would stick broccoli in hot water for 30 seconds whereas my family would put it in for a good 10 minutes to make it nice and soft.

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    • Hong Kong is pretty international when it comes to choices of restaurants, what kind of food do you eat except for sandwiches? I’m glad I’m not as picky with food anymore (I was very picky when I was smaller). I do actually prefer the 30 seconds broccoli, I don’t like it too soft and I prefer the taste of shortly cooked broccoli.

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      • I did notice a lot of restaurants in Hong Kong that I probably could have eaten at but they were so expensive. I have issues with texture of food (30 seconds broccoli is too crunchy for me!) which means I can’t cope with something I do like, such as beef, being cooked in the Chinese style.

        I hate myself being like this. I desperately wish I could enjoy food! Luckily there is a lot more that I like now than I used to but it’s limited to European foods. I didn’t have much trouble when I went to Greece for example, but I still think I would find it very hard to adjust living anywhere except the UK when it comes to food. I’m lucky really that my boyfriend doesn’t want to go back to living in Hong Kong.

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  3. While in Europe, I missed a lot of foods. I think I started craving foods I never even liked just because they were difficult to get. It is as if my taste buds were in protest of my location. They knew they could enjoy perfectly delicious foreign foods but refused to want it. They found things wrong with everything. The vegetables, for example, were unacceptable. They missed my parents’ vegetable garden and my dad’s canned pickles, which they didn’t even like growing up. My dad’s pickles are neither salty nor sweet but something else entirely. They missed fresh spinach salad with arugula, radishes, and fresh tomatoes. They missed grilled zucchini, bell peppers, and some yellow squash-like vegetable that also gets grilled. They are convinced tomatoes loose all flavor in approximately 1 hour after being picked. Everything else tastes miserable. A non-fresh tomato has no flavor. It’s only function in a salad is to serve as a color contrast with the greens. I searched for raw spinach to appease them, but only found frozen puree of spinach, which made me wonder “why bother?”

    They also missed entire flavor sensations that weren’t widely popular in Europe. For example, creole cooking all of a sudden became a strong desire. Then, they missed barbequed meat. I’m not a big meat eater, but in the summer my grand parents used to barbeque a big hog outside over charcoal. Europe obviously has pork, but there is a difference between pork barbequed over the course of a day and infused with smoke and flavor and everything else. One sits on a plate, dead, lifeless. The other fills an entire outdoor space with a smokey, mouthwatering, desire inducing piece of heaven.

    Lastly, They missed fresh fish. Fresh water walleye, to be exact. The proper way to eat it is to catch it and pan fry over an open fire grill with oil and butter within 15 minutes. There is no comparison to fish that was alive, swimming in the wild less than 15 minutes ago. This is what you eat when you camping and you feel a sense of authenticity and harmony with the universe as you become one with the environment by catching, killing, cooking, and then ingesting another species.

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    • Thanks for your comment. If you know what fresh garden vegetables taste like, everything you buy in the supermarket will only taste bland. My grandmother had this huge vegetable garden and I often miss her food (she also cooked really well and healthy). She’s too old now to grow vegetables, but although it kept growing smaller and smaller, she had her garden until she was 84. My mother also has a small garden and I like drinking fresh herbal tea whenever I stay there.
      I used to go to a organic farmer’s market in Vienna, the food you describe sounds a lot like what you could buy there. It’s really fresh and oh so delicious (you’re right, you can’t compare the taste of fresh sun ripened tomatoes with what you usually get at supermarkets in Austria).
      The fish sounds really delicious – I’m not a big fan of the fish you get in China (although they usually kill it just before preparing it, it’s usually not fresh water fish and if it is, well, you’ve probably heard about river pollution in China, Shenzhen’s location isn’t the best when it comes to clean water).

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