Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Peking Duck

I can't remember if I've already talked about the bugs on sticks yet, but I'm about to. If you're squeamish, skip ahead to the part where I talk about eating duck brains. It's much less disgusting.

There's an alleyway in downtown Beijing, hidden amongst such Western favorites as Prada and KFC, that I choose to believe exists only as a tourist trap. Lining the alleyway are vendors of culinary delights. And by culinary delights I mean crickets, starfish, roaches, and even de-shelled turtles on sticks, some of which continue to wiggle.

There were cheap knickknacks and J and I made full use of our new haggling skills to score ourselves some bargains.

It was our last evening in Beijing and we decided we needed to try the fabled Peking Duck. We asked the person at the front desk of our hostel and he recommended a place not far from where we were. In order to get there, we had to meander through the hutongs like real Beijingers.

The duck was pretty awesome. It was served with plum sauce, cucumbers, scallions, lettuce and tortilla-like items in which we rolled them up. The waitress, seeing us rather primitively rolling our duck with our hands, showed us how to do it with chopsticks. After she left, we went back to doing it with our hands. The duck was juicy and rich, the skin was crispy and fatty. J took his time and savored the meal for once. 

Waiting impatiently for the duck.

Duck served on a duck-shaped plate. Culture.

As you can maybe see, the duck was cooked whole and then chopped in half, head and all. It's eyeballs and brains were also divided nicely into two even parts. J ate the brain and said it was delicious. I said he could have my portion too if he wanted.

I'd been wanting to see the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium since we got to the city and since it was our last night, I dragged J out even though it was pretty late. The Bird's Nest and Water Cube are actually pretty far outside the city and by the time we got there the park was closed.
Water Cube to the left and Bird's Nest to the right
When we got back to the subway, it was closed too so we took a taxi back to our hostel.

Notes on Beijing: Frantic, chaotic and overcrowded. Amazing technology aside filthy alleyways. Independent art thrives despite (thanks to?) a Communist government.

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