It’s All About the Food

Sihk Chat Gam Sihk: eat and drink as much as you can

It is believed that seven days after a man dies, his ghost returns to visit his kin.  On that day, ritual ceremonies are performed by a monk (“jouh chat”).  The routine repeats on each subsequent seven-day cycle until the 49th day when family and friends gather together and eat a vegetarian meal of seven dishes.  They can eat and drink as much as possible without paying.  This is known as Sihk Chat Gam Sihk. 

During our recent trip to Spain, my husband and I agreed on one important factor in determining how we rate a vacation’s experience: the food.    

Spanish and Cantonese foods.  Fight!
-Parros versus yau ja gwai.  Parros are a fried dough concoction, cousins to churros.  They remind me very much of  yau ja gwai, except that the Chinese puffed bread sticks are paired with salty dishes like congee and soy milk.  The Spanish version comes with melted chocolate.  Between the two, I prefer the Cantonese type.  However, the churros con chocolate combination beats them both.  There’s something indescribably delicious and decadent about dipping hot, crispy churros into liquid chocolate.  (Also, I find that the Spanish versions of churros are skinnier and made with a better crispiness than the ones I find in the U.S.)

Parros, Spanish yau ja gwai.

 -Cochinillo versus siu yuk.  Cochinillo is a roasted suckling pig with crisp skin and tender meat on the inside.  I found it tasty, but I still prefer siu yuk.  The Cantonese roasted pig sports a thicker crustier skin with a more intense flavor.

Savory new treats
-Chorizo.  I’ve tried chorizo in America, and the ones I tasted were dry and bland.  In Spain, though, I ate a wonderful juicy version of the sausage. 
-Ham.  The Spanish jamón ibérico, similar to prosciutto, in its thin slices and wonderful flavor served as the backbone of many dishes.  
-Tapas.  These small eats accompanied by an alcoholic beverage are varied and interesting.  Not being much of a drinker, though, I found them a bit too salty for my liking.
-Fish.  I ate rape (monkfish), merluza (hake), and bacalao (salted cod fish).  Of the three, the hake flaked right off the fork and melted in my mouth.  (Note to self: when restaurant staff recommend dishes without stating the price, be wary, even when they say, “No tengas miedo.”)

The merluza.

-Pork shank.  Codillo is a tender meat, which I discovered in a Shanghainese-owned Spanish eating establishment.  (A unique experience, since we communicated via an odd mix of Mandarin, Spanish, and English.)
-Veal.  I ate a ternera hamburger, which tasted delicious and reminded me of home at the same time.

The food I missed the most from the U.S.:
-Peanut butter.  I found aisles filled with jams and jellies of different varieties.  I also discovered various types of enhanced honey, including honey with ginseng.  Several Nutella-like spreads existed as well.  No straight-up peanut butter, though, and substituting fresh cacahuetes didn’t quite cut it.

Hope you enjoyed my food travel post!  ¡Buen provecho!

Now that’s what I call a ham!  La Boqueria, Barcelona.
Soaking up Spain
Splendid Spanish Sights

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  1. […] meat, combined with a sauce made from peanuts. Mmm. I’m a big peanut-butter lover (which is why I was sad in Spain.) But back to my great father, who being Malaysian, loves […]

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