The sound of sizzle coming from my kitchen was as foreign to me as local Kūnmíng Huà.
I hadn’t cooked in three years.
After being a head cook at a faith based community that served three hundred and fifty every day, I hung up my apron for a while. Make that more than a while. I had started every morning chopping fifty pounds of onions–over nine thousand– without shedding a tear. It was hard to fire up the desire to be in the kitchen again, especially when it’s cheaper in China to eat out than to cook in.
For under a buck you can get roasted pork belly from the pig part cart.
On the other end of the spectrum, Dàbāo 大包 or “big buns” created in the Muslim food market. These edible soft balls buns meet halal requirements and are permissible to eat under Islamic law. Muslim restaurants have green signage.
Dàbāo can be stuffed with mushrooms, sweet fillings or minced meat, all hand made then steamed in large metal pans that created the leaning tower of Dàbāo, which will be dis-mantled by the end of the day.
Dàbāo are 1.5 RMB a piece, about a quarter. This hole in the wall place is next to the old mosque in Kunming’s city center.
But just in case I had the urge to cook, I brought back to China, a damn good wok, which I rescued from my storage unit.
The stainless steal shovel is a food service quality spatula I found scrounging second hand markets in Kunming. It flips a mean grilled cheese.
Having a taste for cooking again is better than whatever is stirring.