Monday, January 17, 2011

Ode to China's Simple Carbs

Carrie Bradshaw might have loved shoes.  This Asian-American gal?  I never met a well-made rice or noodle bowl I didn't love.

In the United States, I've subscribed to the complex carb movement.  In fact, since I cannot purport to love bread or potatoes, it's been easy to be fairly monogamous to my other love - meat.  Only occasionally will my German- American husband and I have a Chinese night, in which I will dutifully steam a batch of organic brown rice in my loyal National brand rice cooker. And things are happily status quo. That is, until I travel to China on one of my many business trips, then all hell breaks loose.  

I would be lying if I didn't admit that the number one reason I choose to eat complex carbs is for weight control.  God has not blessed me with a waif of a body, nor with a high, or even normal metabolism.  Imagine my surprise, upon testing my metabolism, that I was a full glass of wine's worth of calories slower than what was expected. I really shouldn't have been, though. What with great parking and travel karma, something has to give.  

And so I head to China where I revel in my comfort foods.  And where the complex carbs have not yet had a major coming-out party.  So I indulge in white rice, sometimes fried, sometimes steamed, but always consumed with such rapturous enjoyment that I silently thank those who discovered how to refine the grain to its perfect state.  There's nothing better than the combination of a lovely morsel of beef, slowly braised in soy sauce until it succumbs its tough sinews to moist tenderness, and an equally yoked bite of white rice, perfectly steamed so that it's lovingly cooked through and just sticky enough to stay together.  Ah, it's like Gershwin & Bernstein, Ginger & Fred, Laurel & Hardy.  

Don't even get me started on the immense variety of noodle dishes.  And the Chinese know how good they have it.  On my journey from Taipei to China, I started my day with a bowl of breakfast noodles - toothsome Chinese noodles bathed in a savory clear broth with vegetables and pork slices.  I went to the airline lounge where there was a highly efficient machine of a noodle bar.  The fact that everyone slurped enthusiastically and left nary a stray noodle in any of the bowls tells me they must be cranking out pretty decent-tasting fare.  Then on the plane, they were featuring a famous Tainan noodle soup.  In a 3-hour span, I had been presented with 3 opportunities for noodles.  Cloudy, with a really great chance of noodles.

By now, at the end of my week-long trip, I've had my fill of rice and noodles, a trusted friend at every single meal.  However, it has also been accompanied with a bloated feeling and a distended mid-section that I'm afraid is not a temporary issue.  It's during these moments that I remind myself that an obsessive love affair always has an eventual and devastating downside.  Tomorrow, I return back to the US, where my less devastating and always loyal organic brown rice awaits me.   

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