When you’re travelling, there’s nothing like a trip to Chinatown to get acquainted with Chinese food, the real one!
Tonight in Malacca, Malaysia, it’s a night market. The streets of Chinatown are crowded with street vendors and tourists. Street food is everywhere and the terraces are full. As its name suggests, Chinatown is the Chinatown.
Full of Chinese, therefore, who speak, eat, decorate and sell Chinese. Only the advertised prices are readable, as for what is sold, you have to guess because it is Chinese.
The camelots don’t speak much English and don’t like to take the time to chat because they are too busy for that. They don’t smile either, they fill bowls, plates, boxes mechanically without even looking at the customer and don’t hesitate to send the curious traveller to graze on unexpected flavours. Food here is above all business. Which reinforces my belief that all these culinary shows from the other side of the world in front of which we salivate are extremely well acted and scripted. You order, you pay, you eat and you have to quickly leave your place to the next one, otherwise you risk being shamelessly dislodged by the salesman. You’ve been warned, but don’t let that dissuade you from doing a blind test, it’s very exotic!
Ice creams look like eggs, eggs look like pâté, pâté looks like a cake and cakes look like rusks…
Here we pass sugar cane stalks through a machine that makes them give back their juice, there we make funny thick, white and soft breads like snow eggs, there again we put in bags something that looks like caramel, hard as caramel, the colour of caramel, that sticks to the teeth like… but it doesn’t taste like caramel. Normal, it’s Chinese.
In a Chinese grocery shop, where the food is not yet cooked, it is even more surprising
The colour of the food for my European eyes alarms me about the freshness of the product: it is greenish as mouldy
In Chinese cuisine, each sauce, each dish is made up of a hundred or so ingredients
Travelling gives life a taste... and what a taste!
Sometimes gastronomic nostalgia can win over the most seasoned traveller! What do you want, the French are too spoiled by French gastronomy!