Before I had the opportunity to visit China I frequently ate asian foods at ethnic restaurants in the United States. However, those experiences pale in comparison to going to China and eating traditional Chinese cuisine. In Nanjing I tried many foods I had never heard of or thought I would be eating. I enjoyed eating the dumplings, buns, noodles and rice dishes that had new flavors which were often quite spicy. I went to hot pot one night with a student volunteer and ate stomach intestine that I cooked myself in a hot soup. Nanjing also had a variety of soup dumplings that were made of shrimp, duck and pork. I learned the art of holding the dumpling with my chopsticks and sucking out the hot liquid before taking a bite of the delicious insides. The desserts were vastly different and often less sweet than American style treats. I had sesame ice cream, matcha frozen yogurt (frozen to pieces with dry ice) and hawthorn fruit coated in sugar. I also had a wide variety of boba teas that were all unique and I learned that people often go out and purchase milk tea and bring it along to food places to accompany their meals. At restaurants people would rarely drink any drinks from the actual restaurant especially not cold water like Americans have at every meal. I drank ginger milk tea, strawberry ice cream tea and lime kumquat tea. Then there were snacks. Never thought I would say that I love spicy dried tofu, sweetened dried plums or Chinese rice cakes covered with a glaze. I cannot do justice in describing how much eating your way through China is an essential aspect of traveling there. I cannot wait to go back and try more. The photo is shrimp soup dumplings and I hope it inspires you to head to China straight away to try these foods for yourself.
-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018