When In Roam

Carl Chu's Food & Travel Blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chongqing to Nanjing: Hot Breakfast Is Served

I took an Air China flight from Chongqing to Nanjing. The flight, scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, was a typical Chinese domestic flight. The 1,000 mile journey down the Yangtze took just 2.5 hours to make, and came with a breakfast. That’s something you don’t see much in America anymore—a hot meal on a domestic flight. But this was China, where the airlines are still regulated and the fares controlled. So everyone got a hot breakfast. And what an eye opener it was!

The friendly flight attendants went down the aisle with two choices: “Chinese” or “Western.” Not feeling adventurous, I chose the Chinese. It was a plate of stir-fried noodles topped with a peppery stir-fry of sliced pork, fresh soybeans, and juliennes of pickled mustard tuber (zhacai). Blech.

I also got a look at the “Western” entrée that my lady seatmate had ordered. It looked like ordinary scrambled eggs with a grilled cherry tomato, bacon, and a sliver of hash browns. She took one bite and said it was totally disgusting. Turned out, the scrambled eggs had chopped napa cabbage in it, and by the looks of it, not all too fresh napa cabbage.

We also got a box of goodies to go with our entrées. The contents inside were the same no matter what we ordered: a bread roll—a strange combination to go with my Chinese noodles, I thought; a packet of chopped salted turnips—something Westerners probably wouldn’t know that it made their scrambled eggs taste better; and six longan wrapped in cellophane.

There was also a toothpick with a rather amusing message: “You Are Welcome To Travel By Our Plane.”

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