A taste of China. To go.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

What do you order from your local Chinese restaurant? Do you order it every time or mix things up?

I had my first Chinese meal aged 18, in 1976, when I was at college. On the way back from the pub someone in the group I was in suggested it. I had sweet and sour chicken with boiled rice and rather enjoyed it.

Over the next few years, I developed a taste for dishes like chicken and cashew nuts, crispy fried beef, hoi-sin, plum and black bean sauces. As well as dim sum, prawn toast, pancake rolls, and prawn crackers

I was lucky because, wherever I lived, there was a good Chinese takeaway close by. After that first encounter, I resolved to try and eat my way through the menu, trying a new dish every time I ordered.

Things really changed in 1985. The ship I was on had a full crew change. Replacing the Sri Lankans and their fabulous curries, the new arrivals were all Chinese. The Chinese cook could manage most British delicacies but I, along with several others, elected to eat the food he produced for the crew instead.

To my surprise, it was completely different to the Chinese food I was used to eating. There was a lot more variety and somehow the tastes and flavours were subtly different. The cook explained to me that the food served in restaurants and takeaways out of China was not the same as that normally eaten but had been modified for the Western palette.

I discovered the delights of sweet and sour fish, so many different pork dishes and several things that weren’t on the menu at my local takeaway. As well as regional variations of my favourites.

I also discovered that, on every subsequent ship, the cook had his own way of doing the same things. This added another layer of enjoyment.

When I was no longer at sea for months at a time and our children were still living with us, I often used to order a Chinese meal for us all when I left work and I would pick it up on the way home. The things I’d tried made me more adventurous and I introduced my family to a lot of new dishes that became favourites.

Now I’m retired, I enjoy a Chinese takeaway when I go to visit my daughters. We order a banquet between us (ten people altogether) including crispy duck rolls, sweet and sour Chicken Cantonese style, special fried rice, whatever else we fancy (with noodles) and all the trimmings.

Eating it as a family takes me back in time and brings up so many memories.

Until next time.

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8 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    I think you make a great point there. Unlike ordering a curry, burger and fries, or chippy dinner, with Chinese you don’t just order a main and a side. We tend to go for a smorgasbord of dishes. It’s often too much for two, but get family or friends together and it’s fantastic!

    • Richard Dee

      Just so long as nobody wants any of my Sweet and Sour Cantonese Style, LOL!!!

  2. Stevie Turner

    I prefer plain chicken, fish or vegetables, and dislike spicy food. Hence I haven’t eaten Chinese food for years, except for spring rolls occasionally.

    • Richard Dee

      There are so many regional variations, even of the same thing. My wife prefers the less spicy dishes too.

    • Richard Dee

      It’s a shame because you’re not really getting the true taste of the dish.

    • Richard Dee

      I was pleasantly surprised, yet I can’t find it on an English takeaway menu.

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