China day one dinner, April’s mother’s house, Wuyangcun district, Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China

My first night and first meal in Guangzhou, which managed to make up for my 18 hour plane transit and my luggage lost in Shanghai (since returned).

I already had my suspicions, but I immediately learned that there is no such thing as a single dish in Cantonese dining—not by a long shot. Giant cod, cross-sectioned, topped with soy-and-ginger-infused winter vegetables (center, top photo). Songyong Tibetan dried mushrooms and local donggua winter squash (middle photo). Duck on the bone with a soy-scallion dipping sauce (top left) and cilantro tofu with pork (top right).

Flavor: 4 / 5

The cod stole the show, with a great sweet soy flavor and silky smooth texture, especially around the skin and bonier areas (more on the Guangdong obsession with bones later).

Fun: 2.5 / 5

And just look at the size of that chopped cod’s circumference. Aside from the fun of simply being in a new culture eating homemade food off of a newspaper tablecloth, there was plenty of “What in the world…” value at first glance, on the count of the giant cod circles, the squishy-soft local squash with the texture of boiled pear (admittedly another dish you’d likely only find in China) and the reconstituted dried Tibetan mushrooms (bottom photo)—dried foods being another local motif that will come up again in future meals here.

Funkiness: 2.5 / 5

While still a relatively new cultural experience, the shock value of this meal was very quickly dwarfed by subsequent Cantonese meals. The “what in the world…”, in this case, was quickly explained by my hosts, and the meal could be roughly recreated from ingredients at Whole Foods—although, of course, the unique way they threw it together was still plenty to sate my appetite as both a blogger and an eater of weird foods.

Five more days jam-packed with crazy Cantonese cuisine to come.

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