What’s for Dinner?

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Latimer: I’ve said this before (a lot!!), but honestly one of the best things about going to a different country is getting to eat their food! And I’m the sort of person who takes photos of the food they eat and Instagrams them – hence this post is photo heavy!

I love Asia food but I wouldn’t have ever said I particularly liked Chinese food. As with most countries, we have Chinese takeaways in Ireland and they’re fine. But having been in China, I don’t think they are making proper Chinese food (I think it’s Westernized to suit our palettes). But, I wish they weren’t, because as it turns out, proper Chinese food is so freckin’ good!

I was asked a lot about the food when I came home – people would grimace, ‘what did you eat?!’ Well, okay, to be honest in Chinese food, they use everything and the food is always fresh (i.e. the fish is alive in the tank then cooked and put on your plate). It’s harsh to look at, but you have to respect that Chinese people know where their food is coming from; we eat the steak and the pork and we don’t think about how it got there.

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Weighing the fish

And here the fish is cooked moments later (it's called Beer Fish a dish from Yangshuo)

And here the fish is cooked moments later (it’s called Beer Fish a dish from Yangshuo)

And they have some amazing food markets! The Muslim Quarter in Xi’an was one pretty cool food spot…

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Muslim Quarter Xi’an

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The yellow stuff is rice cake

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They are making this sticky bar type stuff from peanuts and honey… beating the crap out of it with mallets!

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A prune, fungus drink… wasn’t nice! 😦

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Roasted walnuts

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Kitchen in the Muslim Quarter

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A kitchen in the Muslim Quarter

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Making fried wraps

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Yummy fried wraps

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Squid on a stick!

From hotpots to noodles, to taro chips… I ate well in China!

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Meet in a bun… sooo good… and spicy cauliflower

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Noodles in Xi’an (they’re known for their noodles – this was the only time I had noodles actually! wow)

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Spicy beef

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Yummy spicy cabbage

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Sweet and sour fish in Beijing

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Dumplings in Xi’an

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Some seriously spicy hotpot in Chengdu (they have the best hotpots apparently!)

Do you see the brains? Yup... I did not try that! ah... ha... nooo...

Do you see the brains? Yup… I did not try that! ah… ha… nooo…

Spicy potato... Love me some spuds!

Spicy potato… Love me some spuds!

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We stopped off at a local woman’s house for lunch in Yangshuo. This green stuff (a type of lettuce I think?!) was soooo tasty… I could have ate the whole plate!

These were homegrown in the above woman's garden... yummy!

These were homegrown in the above woman’s garden… yummy!

Taro chips.... They could give potatoes a run for their money!!

Taro chips…. They could give potatoes a run for their money!!

I went to a cooking class and this was my end result.... not too bad?!

I went to a cooking class and this was my end result…. not too bad?!

If you ever go to China know that you are going to eat well!

And to round things off you’ll find some nice drinks too!!

This beers quite nice... and bloody massive - I could hardly hold it for this photo!

This beers quite nice… and bloody massive – I could hardly hold it for this photo!

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Strawberry soda

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coffee art… how can you drink it now!!

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More coffee art… so cute!!

 

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Couch Potato Daydreams

couch potRidley: There are often things that don’t live up to your imagination, one in particular down through the years (for me) happens to be exercise. I’ve never been sporty, I was the book type, the girl who when given money for her birthday spent it on numerous books, much to the exasperation of my mother who always insisted I needed clothes rather than more books. It’s not that I don’t love the idea of doing a sport, but the theory has always been so much easier than the practice.

Running, in particular, is one I’ve tried and would love to master. Particularly on a beach somewhere hot, I bet that would probably be nice. For two seconds, then I’d like to return to my yellow parasol with a cool iced drink.

I have attempted that ‘couch to 5K’, which was good for the first few weeks, I gradually built up my running time and decreased my walking minutes. ID-10041999As I did it, I  pictured myself as one of those stylish runners, dressed in sleek black three quarter length trousers, a tank top and swishy blonde ponytail, with The Black Eyed Peas, ‘Push It’ urging me on to success. Then I passed a shop window, where my delusions shattered into thousands of sharp shiny shards, and I saw Bridget Jones, well her uglier sister; Ms Tomato-Head herself puffing as she limped by in a baggy t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms that should have been burned centuries ago. Rather than a small perfect droplet of sweat on my graceful neck and the imagined artful swig of an energy drink, the reality is really more flaying arms and claw-like hands grasping for both my tap water in an old coca cola bottle and my iPod as it randomly shuffles onto classical music-can anyone exercise to that?ID-10087963

I really do have an active imagination. Even being on a bike or horse, I have very similar rampant images, where I’ve picture myself as a majestic Tour de France type or dressage rider, in all the flashy gear, where really I just look like a miserable sack of spuds someone’s abandoned on the seat by accident.

sackNow everyone knows that at the moment, it’s too cold (well here in Ireland) to be exercising outside-though I have seen a few mad people attempting it in the cold driving rain *shudder* It may be spring, but it seems Mother Nature hasn’t gotten the memo yet. In my mind, going to the gym is the only option. I’m a serial gym membership buyer, not goer. I never seem to learn my lesson, despite sometimes having some horrific upfront steep membership fees, I always seem to find a gym to join and then never go. The reasons I use to persuade myself that this time will be different always change. It could be a gym which is closer to where I work than the last one, or it could have no pool, or a larger pool, have lots of classes, or better machines or all male instructors. It doesn’t matter, my record has only been ten visits and then the excuses begin-I’m not a morning person I’ll go in the afternoon, I’m so tired after work I’ll go tomorrow, it’s been a few days I need to work up the nerve to go back. Weeks go by and I become convinced that they’ll laugh at me if I return. Then like a bad embarrassing smell, the guilt and the gym membership fee linger on for a bit, as I try to convince myself that I’ll definitely go on Saturday, or Sunday, or next Wednesday, so I don’t cancel it yet! But soon, I realise I need to plug this particular drain on my finances (my book fund is getting low after all). So I trek down to the gym with downcast eyes and with inaudible mumbling I cancel the membership. They give me the once over and just nod with little resistance, I imagine in the back office somewhere there are a few buff gym types passing fiver notes around as they chuckle over their bets of me not lasting longer than a week.ID-10088597

For now, I’ll continue to try to be as healthy as I can be, it’s in my interest after all and I’ll feel better for it, or at least this is what I’ll continue to mutter to the bright orange carrot sticks sitting in my fridge. I’ll leave the gym memberships alone for a bit and one day I will transform into a graceful lyrca-covered princess, or so the little voice in my head reassures me, though perhaps it’s as crazy as I am!

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