One major food shock for me when I went to China was the lack of salad. It makes sense, in a land where Hepatitis A and C is rampant, that folkways — cultural standards — require all food to be served cooked or peeled.
But it was a shock to learn that, in China, baby romaine or leaf lettuce (sun cai) is first quickly parboiled and then coated with soy sauce. It’s delicious this way. Ideally, the lettuce remains crunchy enough to snap off when it’s bitten near the root and is very delicately flavored.
But no matter how delicious, it’s still not a salad!
Prior to living in China, lettuce had always been a salad vegetable for me. And I supposed, at heart, it always will be.
When I make salad in China, it’s a big deal because it’s so much trouble. I first wash the lettuce to get the dirt off. Most westerners also soak their vegetables in some sort of antibacterial solution, such as a bit of iodine or clorox in the water. Then, I rinse the lettuce in filtered water to get the tap water and any chemicals off. The final rinse is in bottled water to make sure there are no viruses or bacteria or chemicals.
Being back in the USA has given me opportunity to indulge in salads again.
My dinner last night:
first course: mixed salad greens (with cilantro, raddicio, and parsley), topped with dried cranberries, pecans (both unobtainable in China), feta cheese, fresh strawberry slices, and rasberry vinaigrette dressing (not low fat variety which has no flavor!).
Wow, this is such a good salad, you really should try it!!!
second course: a chicken thigh from a deli chicken
third course: mixed salad greens with herbs, feta cheese, fresh strawberries, and rasberry vinaigrette dressing
fourth course: fresh strawberries with feta cheese
fifth course: another strawberry of course!
There’s simply nothing like a good salad. I’m sure I’ll be dreaming about that salad for months after I’m back in China!