Friday, September 30, 2011

The China Diaries: The Cheese Sandwich

I went to Metro today, a market in Xi'an with a lot of imported western food. By American standards, it is not terribly expensive. By Chinese standards, it's horrifyingly so. I spent about ¥250, which is around $40, on western food. I bought things that you, dear reader, take for granted every day, including cereal, skim milk, and bacon. But most precious of all, perhaps, was the cheese.

After flirting with the 10 kg block of mozzarella and the two-gallon jar of grated parmesan, I decided to go with a more practical choice of two different cheddars. One of them is an extra sharp Land O' Lakes. Tonight, grabbing dinner on the go, I made myself a simple cheese sandwich. Five width-wise cuts of cheese. Two slices of bread. Nothing more, and nothing less. It may have been the best thing I've ever eaten. They don't "do" cheese in China, and so it is a rare treat. I found myself savoring the flavor, enjoying the texture. I treated this cheese sandwich like restaurant reviewers are meant to sample the new big dish at a hot restaurant.

I've never been a big foodie, but I think the only thing I want more right now than another cheese sandwich (I have to eat them sparingly, lest I burn through my supply too quickly) is a bowl of Stonyfield Farms vanilla yoghurt mixed with granola. My God, that sounds good.


Clayton Murphy said...

I find this very interesting. Now, questions.
Why do the Chinese not have cheese?
Were you a big cheese fan in the US, or was it a case of food bringing you closer to home?
Can you feed a Chinese person some cheese and ask them what they think.
If you were to ask me what a stranger in a strange land misses the most, it would be a pint of Brains S.A and a nice sausage roll.

CC44 said...

I shall answer your questions in order, sir:

The Chinese never developed any sort of cheese as a part of their cuisine. Dairy in general does not play a large part in Chinese food.

I loved cheese dearly. Still do.

I will need to do some considerable work on my Chinese first, I should thing. But there are so many different kinds of cheese, it seems inevitable that they would like one of them.