(English version from the text posted in Jun/2014)
This is a difficult subject to address given the gastronomic diversity of China and the short visit to the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan provide good examples, so it is difficult to choose a traditional dish or a typical meal that is homogeneously found in all places.
However, in the visited areas, restaurants can easily be found where the common denominator is the existence of a fridge where the available food is exposed, from vegetables, meat, mushrooms, tofu, eggs… and from where the customer can chooses the desired combinations, which are cook in a few minutes. The dishes the come to the table are always shared among the group of friends or family, gathered around the table, being polite to remove one piece of food at a time and put it in the bowl, from where, after mixing with a piece of rice it’s eaten. At the end of the meal, it is respectful to leave some food on the plates, a sign of the abundance of food.
Contrary to what is common in Asian countries, in China it’s unusual to find “street-food”. The most popular and economical option is the small family restaurants, informal and open to the street, where the kitchen is located at the entrance of the restaurant advertising the menu. the most common in these eateries is the noodles soup with all the possible meat variations: pork, beef, chicken, intestines and other internal organs… ghrrr!
In Sichuan, famous for its aromatic pepper, the gastronomy stands out for the spicy taste present in almost all dishes, from soups, stir fry or grill. The ingredients, usually vegetables and meat, often cook in a thick of spicy gravy, come wrapped in oil, but with a delicious and aromatic!
In areas closer to the Tibet Autonomous Region you can find some of the typical Tibetan dishes, although the number of restaurants serving them is small compared to the overwhelming presence of Chinese food restaurants. It stands out the traditional tupka, a soup of vegetables or meat, in a thick broth and with barley pasta cut roughly in pieces. The dumplings that in the Tibetan version are called momos, are also traditional in this area and can be found as a morning meal.
Traditionally from the cold Tibetan areas is butter tea that accompanies meals. The salty butter’s taste stands out in this drink, which as it cools creates a thin layer of fat at the surface.