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Street Food Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Culture, food, sightseeing, travel

As an American living in China, people always ask me if I miss good ole’ American food. Truth be told, you can find tons of great Western food in Beijing – BBQ, soul food, burgers, pizza – they’re all readily available at fine dining establishments in the Chinese capital. Actually, I find myself missing Chinese food when I’m back home in the States far more, especially street food. Sure, you can find hot dogs, pretzels, and other snacks in big American cities like New York and Chicago, but these tend to close down early. Leaving the bar at 2 AM (another area where I miss being in China, by the way… seriously, who does last call and closes at 2?), I’m always disappointed to not find multiple vendors cooking up tasty morsels that will fill my belly and help alleviate at least some of the next day’s hangover.

Cooking up something tasty in the street.

Cooking up something tasty in the street.

Pull up a stool and dig in!

Pull up a stool and dig in!

People love street food in China!

People love street food in China!

In Beijing and most other big Chinese cities, you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a street food vendor (hopefully they won’t go ahead and cook it up on the spot and sell it as lamb) – it’s everywhere and it tends to stick around late into the night. While some people cringe at the thought of eating in the street in China, I personally love it. It’s cheap, tasty, fast, and much better than a comparable meal at a Western fast food joint. It’s always good to eat where the locals go, and in China that means pulling up a stool at a hole-in-the-wall street food stand. Sure, that meat on a stick may be a bit questionable, but after it’s grilled up and smothered in spices, you’ll forget any doubts you had. If you’re not licking your lips yet, here are some pictures of the various delicacies you can find in Chinese streets:

驴肉火烧 (donkey meat sandwich)

驴肉火烧 (donkey meat sandwich)

肉夹馍 (pork sandwich)

肉夹馍 (pork sandwich)

凉面 (cold noodles)

凉面 (cold noodles)

串 (kebabs)

串 (kebabs)

冰糖葫芦 (candied hawthorns)

冰糖葫芦 (candied hawthorns)

煎饼 (egg pancake)

煎饼 (egg pancake)

鸡蛋灌饼 (egg sandwich)

鸡蛋灌饼 (egg sandwich)

饱肚 (cow stomach)

饱肚 (cow stomach)

More 串, also known as 烧烤

More 串, also known as 烧烤

蝎 (scorpion) and 海星 (starfish)... yum!

蝎 (scorpion) and 海星 (starfish)… yum!

That last one may be a little gross, but don’t freak out just yet – these are only sold in big outdoor market areas and are mostly their for shock value. If you do want to eat a stick of scorpions, however, they really are not that bad. Of course, you don’t have to be that adventurous. Simply grab some noodles, a kebab or two, and a tasty Chinese style street sandwich. Your wallet and your stomach will thank you!

 

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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