Whenever I travel I eat a lot. When I’m not travelling I also eat a lot, but that’s not the point. When I was in Beijing for Summer School this past July, I decided to document some of the food I encountered while exploring the area. I know I usually post about interesting places and cultural history, but I’m assuming most of you like food as much as I do. I figured a travel food log would also be fun to post!
During summer school we usually had lessons from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon or even 9 in the evening. Long days! Thankfully, we did have rather long breaks in between the morning and afternoon sessions, so several members of our group would often visit the Cicy Cafe on the BNU (Beijing Normal University) campus after lunch. I went several times and managed to try all of the iced milk tea flavours on the menu. I actually got a little bit obsessed with iced milk tea. The owner of the cafe would make them at the spot. Red bean flavour was pretty good, but I think almond milk flavour was my favourite!
To compensate for our long days in school, we also got to go on some amazing excursions. What do you do on summer excursions? Yes, OK, some sightseeing, but that’s not what I mean. You eat snacks and buy ice cream! I shared some raspberry pocky with my sister on the Great Wall and bought a pineapple ice lolly at the Forbidden City. I also bought a simple and sugary ice lolly for only 1 or 2 Yuan at the Olympic park when we went to see the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium) and Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center). You can find men on the street at any popular destination selling these ice lollies straight out of boxes.
After one of our excursions with the summer school group we also went out to have dinner at a restaurant together. The starters were these elegant square cake thingies you see in the photos above. There were cinnamon rolls (yummy), red bean cakes (yummy), but also green pea cakes. Those are the orange/brownish ones in front. They looked like caramel cakes, so we all tried one. Do not judge a book by its cover, is all I will say. The main dishes included things like Peking Duck, pork, beef, shrimp, and okra. They were all delicious!
Naturally, you can’t go on a trip to Beijing without trying some street food and questionable meaty substances on skewers. One evening, after seeing a traditional Chinese opera, we went out for street food with a smaller group of summer school students. We ordered two of every type of skewer on the menu. I tried chicken heart on a skewer (full of flavour), cartilage on a skewer (horrible texture, do not recommend), you name it and we tried it. I also had a bite of squid on a skewer a few days earlier, very tasty as well. That big bowl of noodles was rather tasteless, although it did its job filling my empty stomach after a day of walking around the Forbidden City.
Naturally, this travel food log doesn’t cover all that I ate during my stay in Beijing (not even close), but I hope it gives you a general impression of my culinary adventures in China. I have a lot more to post about visits to places like the Olympic park and Chinese opera, so keep an eye out for more Beijing-themed blog posts. Talk to you soon!