For a while, my life in France was friendless and honestly, not so fun. Everything changed when I enrolled myself in a school to improve my (dreadful) language skills. I got on the friend train and the damned thing hasn’t stopped rolling.
One of my best friends from school is a lovely girl from China named Lisa. She recently returned from a trip to China with her husband with a box full of goodies. I asked to try some and she most willingly obliged. She is a fellow foodie, so I was sure her Chinese treats would be delicious.
We picked out a few snacks to try. Amongst them, we had a spicy tofu snack, dried beef with sesame seeds and chili oil, and a sort of Chinese beef jerky. As our snack time approached, I started to get nervous. To tell the truth, my stomach turned at the thought of tearing open the packets.
Why? Rationally thinking, I knew that I was being a silly goose. The Chinese probably consumed about a billion packets of this delicious dried meat and tofu a day. If Lisa deemed it good enough to specifically bring back from China, I doubt it would disappoint. But still, it was meat in a package. The ingredient list was a no-go, because it was all in Chinese.
So, I just went for it. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Everything was fantastic!
The dried beef with sesame seeds and chili oil provided a mildly spicy two-bite snack. The balance of hot pepper with other spices like star anise was just perfect. The spicy tofu was firm and great for snacking. (Lisa assured me you could eat five packages of it and not gain weight. Bless her skinny heart.) And the Chinese beef jerky puts conventional American beef jerky to shame. It was covered in a mix of spices that didn’t overpower the beef, but enhanced the flavor. The best part was the texture, which was so much softer and more tender than the usual beef jerky you buy as an impulse purchase while waiting in the checkout at Wal-Mart.
See, I had nothing to worry about. Once again, trying ‘real’ Chinese food has exceeded my expectations. Now my biggest worry is where to find these yummiest of Chinese snacks!