So, what do we eat here in China? We get asked this all the time by people here, who assume we eat nothing but this, all night, all day.

Chinese fast food menu nipic

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If I had to eat these “Western” dishes every day, it would be the expat sequel to Super Size Me

Anyway, our friends in the States are also very curious as to what exactly we eat while we’re here. I thought the easiest way might be to just keep track for a week and show you.

What I wanted was beautifully prepared, sumptuous dishes for every meal, photographed in perfect lighting, with the blurry backgrounds that let you know this is serious.

Instead, you get to experience our real meals on our real dishes, photographed under fluorescent lighting with my cell phone. But hey, you wanted authentic, right?

Day 1 – Sunday


Sunday mornings are our designated sleep-in day when we can also enjoy a leisurely weekend breakfast. For today, we had planned pancakes with REAL whipped cream(!!) and fruit, with REAL coffee(!!) for the grown-ups.

But we woke up to a surprise: No power!

IMG_20140921_091643This is the 8 bijillionth time we’ve had to function without electricity, so it was almost automatic to figure out what could and could not be done.

I lined the kids up near the fridge and told them I would only open the door once and try to pass out everything we needed as quickly as possible. There was no telling how long the power would be off, and we needed to keep the inside of the fridge cold. Out came eggs, a tiny box of UHT whipping cream, a larger box of UHT milk, and butter, and then we got to work.

The gas stove meant cooking pancakes was not a problem. The cream had to be whipped by hand, and the kids and I took turns so our arms wouldn’t die.

IMG_20140921_091616I assumed the real coffee was out, and planned to heat up water on the stove and make some mugs of Nescafe. But, wonderhubs Eric poured it manually through the coffee filter into the carafe. Smart cookie, he is.

Here’s the fruit of our labors. Nice work, team!



Still no power. The longer it’s off, the more we can’t afford to open the fridge.

IMG_20140921_125637I thought about re-heating some leftover pancakes in the skillet, but then I remembered I had bought a loaf of bread last night. It was the faux Wonder Bread stuff that is sold all over China, and I bought it on a whim, just for the feeling of buying, rather than making, bread.

On the same shopping trip, we also purchased a new jar of peanut butter (what? they have that here now?!?) and one of jam, and they were in the cabinet, unopened. Those three ingredients meant we could have pb&j sandwiches without opening the fridge.

There were bananas to add for those of us who dig that variant, and there were some potato chips we had also bought on a whim. (I guess it was a whimmy kind of grocery trip.)

And that, friends, is enough to make a decent lunch for an American.

Random thought: Americans are seen as loving SWEET things, and that is true. But, we don’t like everything to be sweet. Please keep my potato chips, popcorn at the movies, and my sandwich bread NOT sweet. Thank you.


The power was still out, and we decided this called for drastic action: going out to eat.

IMG_20140921_174615We drove/rode downtown to try a Korean place our friends had recommended. It was in a part of town that, thankfully, did have power. The restaurant had a self-serve buffet with a wide variety of meats and vegetables that you could grill (think hot griddle, not barbecue grill) yourself at your table.

It was a steep learning curve, but I think we got the hang of it. The skewers with hard-to-read Chinese names will be avoided next time. The reason we couldn’t read the characters is because they were obscure body parts of animals.

Overall, it was more Chinesey than Koreany, but it was a great dinner.

It was also the most expensive one we’ve ever eaten in Jingxi: US$26.37 for the four of us.

What was the deal with the power outage? Find out in the next thrilling installment: Day 2!