I was walking with my teacher in Cui Hui park, in the center of Kunming. We were strolling around the emerald-colored lake, among the old willow trees and colorful pagodas. We saw several large ornamental carp. “Hmmm, big fish,” she said. “Big enough to cook.”
How a nation as obsessed with food and noodles, breads and snacks stays so skinny is beyond me.
When hunger strikes, whether in the park or anywhere in Kunming, here are seven popular snacks readily available:
1. Yumi bing, fragrant corn cakes, here at a small market. Only 1 RMB apiece, about 15 cents.
2. Er kuai, a grilled bread made from rice flour, a little spongy and tangy. Comes slathered with your choice of sauces, either salty or sweet, including ground peanuts, and folded. Also can be ordered folded around a fried dough cylinder: a doughnut sandwich. 2.5 RMB.
3. Dou Jiang, described to me as bean juice. Hmmmm. Amazing how important names can be. I tried it anyway. It was simply sweet soy milk. I thought it tasty and on weekends drink a cup with a baozi, for breakfast. Can be had warm or chilled. One dou jiang and one baozi, together 3 RMB.
BTW, I couldn’t get the straw to puncture the top, and made a spectacle of myself jabbing the plastic lid over and over. Finally a passerby showed me the trick. Oh, aim for the edge.
4. Rice noodles, mixian, are a favorite Kunming dish, served hot, cold, with sauce and in broth, in dozens of variations, by innumerable storefronts spilling onto the street. The noodles are uniformly delicious. One bowl, liang mixian, 8-12 RMB.
5. Grilled meats, tofu in several flavors and vegetables make a yummy snack, or order as an extra with your noodles.
6. Chicken feet are indeed very popular, but I haven’t worked up to munching them yet. All in good time. You can also buy them in the store packaged and ready to eat.
7. Fruit is a tasty and healthy snack, and street carts are loaded with bananas, watermelon, durian, lychees, Asian pears and mangoes, from tropical and semi-tropical regions just a little south of Kunming. You buy by the kilo, although in Kunming ordering a kilo gets you a half kilo. If you order a half kilo you get [and pay for] a quarter kilo. It’s just the local way.