Friday, July 24, 2015

The Travelling Nutmeg: Ciqikou 磁器口- Foodie Paradise

Take me back! Take me back! :'(. Do you know where to find all of Chongqing's cuisine in one place. Then you need to visit Ciqikou 磁器口. As the name suggests, from the mouth of the river leads out into bridges and ancient buildings of beautiful carvings and designs.

These patterned side-walks lead you to a land of food. Think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs before the genetic distortion...grilled kebabs, freshly squeezed juices, ancient and modern tea brews, traditional yoghurt, fun cotton candy, hand made noodles, freshly made spice oils and pastes.

You may even see a dancing squid guy or a coconut having a smoke. You know, the things you can't make up. All this is coupled with pearl and silk shops, music holes (there was a reggae shop :O), and thirty minute  portraits.

Walk around with a crown of flowers like a Foodie Princess
I found food close to home like the tropical flavours of pineapple rice

and even closer...roti with its personalized chef direct from India. But something was different, There was no curry. Every filling was sweet, like bananas, strawberries and chocolate. And the skin was fried :O.

After speaking to the chef, he explained that changing the recipe was necessary to fit the locals palettes but if I came to his house, his curry won't disappoint. Well that was a relief.

But the real reason that everyone comes to Ciqikou isn't the cute trinkets, novelty shops and all the modern food.

It's the ma hua 麻花. 

There are long lines like the ones you find people waiting in for hot bread. There are about four stalls, each with a first prize plaque, I guess testifying to how great they ALL are. They even offer different flavours such as

purple sweet potato
pork floss
sesame seed

coconut and original. But really who wants original when there is so much awesomeness to choose from. Oh I forgot to tell you what ma hua is. Well, HINT every one calls my braid hairstyles that name. So basically, it's a braided flour snack that's crunchy, sweet and additive

But to really enjoy this place, you need to come early and with an empty stomach. Maybe even space it over a couple days. Allow yourself a chance to enjoy each food experience. Most of the chefs are really lively and would show you their preparation technique. But if you just want to eat, they'll be just as happy to feed you.