I"m like Mr. Thwackum in Fielding's Tom Jones: "When I mention religion, I mean the Christian religion, and not only the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion, and not only the Protestant religion, but the Church of England." Likewise, when I mention China's vibrant culture, I mean its bustling streets and not only its bustling streets, but its outdoor food stalls, and not only its outdoor food stalls but the ones serving meat on a stick. Oh yes and the temples, too. For sure, temples.
The cost of eating out varies greatly from place to place but as far as i'm concerned we've derived as much enjoyment from eating little steamed buns for five yuan in a market stall created from a shipping container, as we did paying 125 yuan for a skimpy lunch in an upscale restaurant in Zibo's most glamorous shopping center. We can get steamed buns or meat pies for a few yuan to enjoy while shopping or to take home for lunch or dinner
There are lots of fast-food restaurants around here but it's amazing to me how fast the service is in regular restaurants. What do you need "fast food" for when you can order three dishes and the first one arrives five minutes later fresh out of the wok?
And boy, we're loving the eggplant. They have so many imaginative ways to cook it here, including as the filling in a little sort of sandwich pancake. Sauteed with cloud ear fungus and garlic. Last night it was flash-fried with a scrumptious seasoning.
Sorry if I'm making you hungry!