I’m going to blame the boring meeting, the broken wi-fi and my hormones. Last night, when I collapsed on the sofa after a stressful day and contemplated what I should order in for dinner, my entire body, mind and soul yelled ‘CHINESE FOOD’ – and it was with a shudder of disbelief that I realised that what I wanted, nay, craved, was British Chinese food.
Surely this must be a sin, I thought, and definitely a disgrace. And I such a food snob. The face I pull when I hear someone asking for Californian rolls in a Tokyo sushi restaurant, or when I order fish and chips in Beijing and fish fingers come out – that face, was now looming over me with a look of utter disdain. ‘What?’ it said, ‘instead of juicy, tender roast duck that is Beijing’s pride and joy, you want dry, greasy stringy bits from Chinatown, London? You want crabmeat and sweetcorn soup, because that’s so authentic, and you want spicy squid where the ‘spice’ is so bland it might as well be flakes of crayon? And what? You want crispy seaweed that’s not even seaweed but CABBAGE?!’
‘Yes,’ I replied defiantly, ‘and what’s wrong with that?’ I reminded the face that I’ve committed similar sins before; I quite like Japanese-style pasta and pancakes, and nothing beats a British curry house for a good, boozy fill, or a big bowl of soggy spag bol on a cold day.
Admittedly, actually sitting in Beijing and craving crap duck is nearly as bad as ordering a Hawaiian in an Italian pizzeria or an Americano in a Parisian café. But sometimes, in our weaker moments, our stomachs are less sophisticated than our minds, and we have to go with it.
Of course, last night’s biggest tragedy was that I couldn’t get my hands on any British Chinese nosh, and I won’t be able to on any other night until I next fly back to the UK. So I made do with a Persian lamb shish and rice (which came with chips), supplemented it with home-cooked Japanese miso soup, and washed it all down with cheap German beer. My stomach was utterly confused and, sadly, only vaguely satisfied.
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