Monday, November 14, 2005

A Lesson in Beijing

During the winter season in China, it is very common to see street vendors selling all sorts of local food such as Mongolian BBQ meats, beancurds, spring rolls, fried cakes and sweets along their "pasar-malam" type food streets.

The above picture was taken along the famous Wang Fu Jing street in Beijing and this vendor is selling the famous winter specialty of skewed fresh fruits candy (called "Tanghulu" in Mandarin). Actually, they are cut fresh fruits like strawberries, plum, kiwi, mandarin oranges and pineapples skewed on wooden sticks and dipped into melted sugar and left to freeze in the wintry air. The result are these very appetizing looking sticks of candied fruits with frozen hard flat candy stuck on them.

I first came across these delights on the Discovery Travel & Adventure programme on ASTRO and when I saw them on display during my trip to Beijing last December, I just could not resist the temptation! They really look very delicious. So, I did the human thing and ignored my tour guide's warning about consuming street food sold by hawkers in China and bought myself two sticks of it (I was that greedy, okay?). Guess what? They tasted as delicious as they looked. And I finished them up, sticky mess and all (yummy...).

The next day though, I paid dearly for my indiscretion. It was a real nightmarish case of food poisoning with the whole works of purging and vomitting. For the next 3 days, I dared not venture too far away from the toilet. And that effectively put an end to whatever fun I was having for the remaining days of my holiday.

It was a tough lesson for me. On the one hand, I regretted not being able to enjoy some of the places of interest because I was just too sick and tired to walk. On the other hand, I DID get to taste those forbidden fruits and they were truly every bit as good as I imagined them to be. Would I do such a thing again? Nah ...


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