Monday, September 10, 2012

What to Eat?

My first night in Qing Dao I enjoyed less than spectacular fare: a bowl of Ramen noodles and a hard boiled egg, both bought at the 7-11 close to the hotel. But then, I was tired and hungry. I really didn’t care what I ate. After that initial slow start I planned to incorporate forays into the local gastronomical specialties, as I always try to do when visiting a new town.

I was stymied by 2 distinct problems: local gastronomy specialties are all about seafood, and I was traveling alone.

I loathe the very smell of seafood. From the time I was a small child, any type of fish or seafood has passed my lips only a handful of times, and always under duress. Well… duress might be too strong a word. Let’s just say I’ve never ordered anything seafood on my own. However, if it is served in the course of a meal and I can’t get around or avoid eating any, I will take a bite or two, but never enthusiastically and always with the fear that I will be sick afterwards.

Here’s what happened: years ago, when I was about 7, we went to a seafood restaurant. We knew that the fish was no good. My sibs and I protested and complained in vain. Our mother informed us, in no uncertain terms what would happen to us if we did not clean off our plates. We did, and started getting sick within minutes of leaving the restaurant. I believe we were all sick for days afterward… I really don’t remember. I do know that the fallout of that experience has given me a lifelong dread and dislike of anything that even remotely has anything to do with fish or seafood, including fish sticks. Even the smell turns my stomach.

Yes, I do think of the nutritional benefits I’m missing out on. It is a good thing I am otherwise healthy and the absence of fish in my diet has not gravely affected me.

Healthy or sick, my disdain for seafood seriously impacted my sampling much of the local fare in Qing Dao. Traveling alone was the other factor.

When I travel with friends it is always easy ordering a variety of food. With several of us – or even just two of us we can sample various creations and not worry about leftovers. When it is just me, it is more difficult because it is still culturally difficult for lone diners, especially female diners to eat alone without being stigmatized.

Since I’ve been here I’ve only snacked. A bowl of noodles, street vendor food and the like. Once, in desperation I even ventured into KFC. After the beer I was ready for some real food. Seriously disappointed about not having any German food available in the German part of town around the brewery, I made do with a bowl of noodles from a chain restaurant bearing the humorous name: First Noodle Under the Sun.

I could whine but what is the point? There are more entries to write and more things to see and do. I sucked up my noodles and went back to my hotel room, determined to find Snack Street the next day.

So get your rest. After a brief commemoration we’re going to not have a good day. See you then!      

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