A few days ago we got back from our epic 5,000-plus mile trip from Hong Kong to Kazakhstan and back. We spent a month taking trains, buses, taxis, planes, small three-wheeled contraptions, and camels, and returned to Hong Kong exhausted and filthy and a bit stunned. But what a trip - watching the sun rise over the Gobi Desert... climbing mountains to watch the early morning mist swirl around snow-covered peaks... being briefly placed under house arrest... it was magical.
But let me start with what everyone wants to see - the food.
Traveling through China, we feasted daily on all of our favorite Sichuan dishes.
Potatoes, either fried with chilies -
Or "sour and spicy" -
Dry-fried green beans -
Various types of noodles -
And other delicacies, like bread brushed with mutton fat and spices and then grilled at the night market -
The bread came with the skewers of mutton that I ordered. I ordered "two." Which is apparently two servings - not two skewers. But no problem - I ate all twenty of them -
A gigantic plate of chicken with chilies -
Stir-fried green onions with strips of tofu -
"Three thread salad" -
Lotus root with chili, three-thread salad, cucumbers -
Um... steamed lettuce. With chili and peanuts. Not so great, really.
Very spicy chilies with black bean sauce -
Eggplant and green beans -
Skewers of eggplant and garlic -
And the meal we had at our hotel's Mongolian restaurant while under house arrest in Hejing. Spicy jellyfish salad (Little-known fact: Mongols were traditionally jellyfish herders. Seahorses were domesticated for this purpose.) -
Egg and chive dumplings -
Flatbread with mutton and fried egg -
And beansprouts -
In fact, while in China we only ate meat two or three times. Not out of deference to Kelly's vegetarianism (because when have I ever deferred to that?) but because the veggies are just so damn good.
The street food was fabulous, as always. This is an area where Hong Kong is almost completely deficient, so I tried everything I could.
Quail eggs cooked in cast iron -
A cart where you pick what you want...
And they'll deep fry it (fried lettuce is surprisingly tasty) -
A thin pancake filled with egg, radish, carrot, green onions, lettuce, and chili sauce -
And because we were on the train so much, we had a chance to try all sorts of snacks. They were universally good.
Spicy lotus root -
Um... pear breast -
And pickled tofu and soybeans -
Up next - the food in Kazakhstan. Spoiler alert: it's very, very different.