Monday, June 27, 2011

Mandarin Mondays: 烧烤

My stomach is still feeling the effects of Saturday's Chinese barbeque (烧烤 shāo kǎo), and the Fourth of July is coming up soon, so I thought it a good time to talk about barbecuing. Like a lot of things here, barbecuing is both similar and different to how we generally do things in America. Also, eating anywhere here has been referred to as a Chinese roulette: sometimes you get sick, and sometimes you don't; sometimes you know why, and sometimes you don't. So, it is possible that it was something other that this barbecue that made us sick.

My husband's school was hosting a barbecue at a lovely park on a lake southwest of the city. The park is beautiful. You can see mountains and the lake, and there are lovely gardens. There are also a lot of man-made tourist attractions and souvenir shops.

When we arrived, we went walking through the park and eventually found the shāo kǎo area, or as the sign says, "blarbacue tribe," and were told where to sit by Nate's teacher. The tables in this area have built-in barbecues, so your food is cooked right there in front of you. It is a convenient, but smoky, setup.

Now they do have hamburgers (hàn bǎo) and hot dogs (rè gǒu) in China, but you aren't likely to find these at a traditional shāokǎo. Actually, they are pretty rare anywhere outside a fast food place or western restaurant. At this barbecue, they served chicken wings (jī chì) and sliced pork (zhū ròu). By the way, the phrase "to eat chicken wings" in Chinese is "chī jī chì," in case you weren't confused enough already. They also had potatoes (tǔ dòu), onions (yáng cōng), and zucchini (xiǎo guā). So far, this is not too odd for barbecue food. Then they brought out some sort of breakfast cake, which didn't look at all like cake, and put that on the grill too. Last they brought out cold rice noodles (mǐ xiàn) in individual dishes. They didn't grill the noodles. Cold rice noodles are a famous local dish.

The food all tasted good and seemed to be cooked well. Shāo kǎo literally means "fire roast," and the food was cooked until incredibly hot, except for the local soy bean and spice sauce and cold noodle dish, which makes them the most likely suspects for tummy upset. The boys didn't see the need to eat for politeness' sake, so they didn't eat anything besides Pepsi and part of a banana. They are still doing fine, so perhaps there decision was wise.

We all had a great time walking in the woods and along the lake. The boys particularly enjoyed the large jungle gym there and throwing rocks into the lake. It was a beautiful day at the park, at least until Andrew filled his diaper and Aaron had a bathroom misadventure. Then is was time to head home.


  1. Sounds like a very full day!

  2. Love your new blog! One wish, I wish we could click on your Chinese words and hear the pronunciation. Maybe you could get your wonderfully handy computer husband to work on this for us?


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