Posts Tagged With: Beijing

If You Are in the Neighborhood: Bon apéttit!

A series of posts from our travels.

Outdoor food courts in Beijing offer starfish and scorpions, among many other delicacies.

Would you eat grilled centipedes? How about haggis? Would you wash down your meal with some wine fermented in a bottle with three poisonous snakes?

For me, the answer to the first two questions was “no.” When walking along an outdoor food court in Beijing, some Chinese men offered me what looked like a grilled centipede from a stick. I turned them down and they laughed. In Scotland, during a wonderful Burns Supper evening at a friend's home, I could not bring myself to eat the haggis. Sue did!

On a return trip to China, I was offered snake wine during a Li River cruise and, remembering my regret at not grabbing a centipede from the young Chinese guys and tossing it in my mouth, I (very reluctantly) ordered a glass. It tasted like whiskey, made my tongue numb, and I surprised the Chinese hosts who were used to being turned down. We all had some great laughs when I tried to speak.

When we lived in Scotland, friends visiting from the U.S. brought canned pumpkin so we could make pies for Thanksgiving. I took a pie to work; some of the Scots tried it, but others would not. In fact, they were repulsed by the idea.

I hope I can become a more adventurous eater when I travel. Perhaps a bit more wine before a meal might help.

What is your favorite food story from your travels?


There was a surprise ending to this drink.


A Scottish tea room offered tea, fresh scones, clotted cream and jam. Along with our friends Doug and Kathy, we could not turn them down!



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If You Are in the Neighborhood: Ancient Beijing

A series of posts from our travels.

One of the three Black Lakes near the Forbidden City.

A hutong, or narrow alleyway, in Beijing.

Beijing is a sprawling city marked by rapid modernization that has led to the leveling of many ancient courtyard homes (siheyuan) and narrow alleyways (hutongs). The destruction and resulting displacement of people has been controversial and there is an effort to preserve and renovate homes in areas near the Forbidden City. Guidebooks highlight walking and rickshaw tours and both times I was in Beijing, our tour groups were offered a luncheon in a family's courtyard home for a reasonable extra charge. If you have the chance, don't miss it. It was the best food of two trips to China.

A popular so-called hutong neighborhood is near the Black Lakes area about a mile from the Forbidden city. There are many bars and cafes around the lakes. Tourists and locals stroll and bicycle around the lakes.

Our group, in photo at left, enjoys a tasty lunch in a Chinese family's courtyard home.



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