This is pretty much a COMC (Clearing Out the Memory Card) post. During our time in China we stayed in Jianyang for one evening, here are some photos we took during that time.
The hotel provided a buffet style breakfast, that looked quite typical, but had quite a few breakfast items that were interesting.
Sure there was rice porridge and the like.....but there were a number of spicy Sichuan dishes as well. I had really never given thought to what the typical Sichuan breakfast would be.....the thought of having some "ma-la" (numbing hot) dishes first thing in the morning seemed very different to me.
Just as tomatoes are often treated like fruits in China, potatoes are treated like true vegetables. It's not uncommon to see them stir-fried.
I wasn't sure how my body would react to having this stuff early in the morning....but it turns out that I enjoyed it to some extent.
Even though the population of Jianyang is pegged at 1.2 million and I'm assuming growing as the local textile industry does, the streets in the area where we stayed were wide and pretty much empty. Perhaps everyone had already gone to work......
This seems really great, but as anyone who has tried to cross the street in China knows......other than driving on the correct side of the street (something which is rather flexible in its own right), the "rules" here are different. Because there was no traffic, cars and trucks were driving as fast as they could on these streets....shades of Phnom Penh!
Many of the smaller businesses were located on the side streets.....
I heard a familiar buzz as we passed the Baozi stand.....I immediately knew what it was, as we turned the corner I found that my hunch was correct.
It was the local morning market......
For me, the most entertaining set-up were all the meat hanging for display, it was a literal "meat curtain".
The meat did look quite fresh......
The market itself wasn't too crowded, so after a cursory walk-through we headed back down the street to a bit more exploring. Daily life in Jianyang seemed a bit more laidback, though the speed of things in Chengdu seemed quite relaxed as well.
You never know what you'll see wandering down the street in a city that you don't reside in.
You see things that are unfamiliar, greeting them with almost a child like wonder.....
I loved the makeshift "ramp" built from rebar. You relaly couldn't make out the rebar from a distance. You'd suddenly see a jug zipping across the sidewalk!
We saw this hanging in front of a Jianyang Mutton Soup shop(luckily no carcasses of wild dog in sight), we saw a typical display of how the Chinese stretch the law a bit....
There was an older man with a large cutting board squatting on the sidewalk chopping and hacking at the mutton. Imagine if you will, someone doing this on a major four lane road in your city! He was dressed in the typical stained white teeshirt, white paper hat (after all there are hygenic standards, right?), cigarette dangling from his mouth, hacking away. Suddenly, a police vehicle drives to the curb and one of the guys starts yelling .....I'm assuming telling him not to portion his mutton the the sidewalk. The "chef" ignores the officer. So what does the guy in the car do? He grabs a megaphone and starts using the darn thing, loud enough to shake the leaves off the trees (which are falling on the chopped mutton meat). He screams for about five minutes, but is just ignored. So what does the officer do next? Does he and his partner get out of his vehicle to enforce the law? Heck no, they just swear at the guy (so the Missus says - through the megaphone) and drive off. Jianyang's finest on the job!
Later that morning, the Missus' cousin took us on the short tour of one of the lakes in the area. There are islands in these lakes that house hotels and resorts. You can get to them by boat.
We ended up having lunch at one of the hotel restaurants. Nothing particularly memorable.
Like I said earlier; potatoes are treated as a vegetable.....
Actually, the "saliva chicken" (so good you can't stop drooling) was decent. Not very spicy (La), but it numbed half your face (Ma).
As a whole, like we were told, the food in this part of Sichuan isn't as spicy-hot.
For dinner we were taken to a Hot Pot place.
Which was more of a "hip" hot pot shop, where the young folks seem to going for hot pot and socializing.
Actually, the broth was pretty good, though again, more numbing than spicy.
It was a nice side trip for the Missus as She got to meet relatives.......
As I mentioned in a previous post, the Missus' cousin lived in Jianyang, about 80 kilometers outside of Chengdu. And while he and his family really weren't "foodies" he went out of his way asking friends and acquaintances for recommendations. We really appreciated his efforts. On our first evening, he took us to have what is Jianyang's signature dish, Jianyang Mutton Soup. Located down a dusty side street, this little shop was doing some major business....though the customers seemed overwhelmingly male.
This restaurant was supposed to be the "original" Jianyang mutton soup shop............
There were a few side dishes ordered and it seemed like there were two standard condiments for the dish that came out. The first was simply salt and ground chilies. The second was lamb consomme with chilies.
The broth of the mutton soup seems to made from rapidly boiled bones, creating a milky white appearance, a process that leaches all of the nutrients from the bones. When the Missus used to get sick as a child, Her parents used to make bone soup to nurse Her back to health, so it is something appreciates.
The actual broth was very mild, thus the condiments. The meat was slightly gamey, some of it rather chewy, but not as "wild" tasting some mutton/lamb I've had, and some of it had a slight sweetness to it as well. It was milder than much of the mutton/lamb/venison that I've had.
Do you notice something about the soup? If you've read our little blog long enough, you'd know that one of the items that I'm not a big fan of is jellied blood and this soup is teeming with cubes of blood. Being the guest, the Missus cousin made me the first bowl and I was honored, but it was full of cubes of blood. I looked at the Missus and shrugged, what could I do? I had to eat it.......
And it was delicious....sweet, without that livery-iodine flavor that I don't enjoy. In fact, it was the best thing about the soup. After returning to San Diego, I immediately went to a couple of my favorite Vetinamese restaurants and decided to have the cubed blood again...gaaack, sorry to say, it ain't the same.
The side dishes were very tasty. The minced meat with celery was well executed. The meat in this was rather rich so the celery and tomato helped to cut the flavor.
The second dish, consisting of some pretty fatty and greasy looking meat was amazingly mild as well.
It was a very hearty meal which made both the Missus and I quite sleepy.
The Missus cousin had put us up in a very nice looking hotel.......
Which overlooked the main city park.
There's not much happening here during the day....it's very quiet and tranquil.
But much like the rest of China, after the work days ends, the park is full of people getting their exercise, watching a movie on the big screen over the park, dancing, or just plain socializing.
As for the "sort of"......the Missus hadn't read or even noticed the sign of the restaurant when we ate there. After we returned I asked the Missus to translate the sign and all She could say was "oh my"......