My first taste of mangosteen was not my choice. We were walking along a street in Shanghai and passed a vendor with two big baskets of these little plum-sized fruits. He had opened one and was offering passers-by tiny sections on a toothpick. We stopped and asked what they were, and he stuck a piece in my mouth! Unasked! Cheeky! If it had been durian I would have spit it out and slapped him, but lucky for him it was delicious--sweet and slimy like a banana, but in tiny sections like citrus fruit.
Not “a vegetable” but the “A” vegetable. There is not B vegetable or C vegetable, but there is the A vegetable. It looks like romaine lettuce without the bony white stalk, and it’s mild enough to eat raw in salads. As pictured here, it also stir fries up beautifully. I took this picture in Din Tai Fung in Taipei, and then I ate everything in sight.
I don’t mean that stuff you get in the rest of the world like beef-and-broccoli or fortune cookies or General Tso’s chicken. No Panda Express. No Asian Super Buffet. We will heretofore refer to that stuff as “Chinese food.” I mean Chinese food that you buy in China that Chinese people would recognize and eat. Chinese food. No quotation marks.
Hong Kong has a kind of market they call a “wet market.” It’s a street market with stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables, and sometimes meat and fish. They are usually set up in pedestrian side streets in busy areas, but this one was on the covered pedestrian overpass linking the ferry piers to the IFC mall. There was just one stall, set up in a circle in the middle of the overpass, and they sold only vegetables.
I have often been mystified by different areas’ regional specialties. Cider and donuts in Michigan, while tasty, seems like cider and donuts everywhere. Blue Bells ice cream tastes like grocery store ice cream to me, even though it’s Texas’ pride and joy. In and Out hamburgers are pretty good, but not better than other California fast food burgers. Why all the hype?