From the Arch to the Great Wall

8. Pulled Noodles, Knife Cut Noodles and Dumpling Banquet

Traditional la mien 拉麵

Lunch today had to be one of the best culinary highlights of the trip. It was a buffet along with two noodle stations. The buffet was really bad so I skipped that and went straight for the noodle stations. One station offered traditional la mien, meaning "pulled noodles". The chef started with a ball of dough and rolled and stretched it until it was a long but thick rope. He doubled it and pulled, thus making two noodle ropes. He doubled again and kept doubling and pulling until he had a handful of noodles that were pretty symmetrical for being handmade. Then he dropped it in some sort of light broth and scooped it out into bowls for everybody to try.

The other noodle station offered traditional dao xiao mien, meaning "knife cut noodles". This station was cooler to watch though the flavor was just as good as the other station. The chef started with a chunk of dough and molded it onto a wooden board in the shape of a loaf of bread. Then he took a really sharp knife and "sliced" off noodles straight into the pot of water. These flat noodles were also sized well for being handmade. The noodles were cooked and then drained and placed in bowls. They were served with a special beef sauce drizzled on top. I thought the noodles were great but the sauce was a little salty so I went back for another bowl of the la mien.

Noodles are popular with Chinese because they are simple to make, cook, and eat. In just a short time, a specially trained chef can make a dozen bowls of noodles and serve them hot or cold, drizzled with chili oil, doused in soup, or smothered with a sauce. Also, since noodles always come in the form of long strings, they represent longevity and can be found at birthday parties and other special occasions.

The final stop before dinner was a museum of ancient stone tablets. I nicknamed it the museum of "rocks with stuff written on them". Somewhere along the way there was a loss of information so I didn't learn much here. Eventually many students ended up sitting and waiting for others. I don't think the museum is to blame for not being interesting; the terra cotta soldiers were a hard act to follow.

Dinner was yet another culinary highlight. It was the famed "dumpling banquet" that I personally had been waiting for. The dumplings came out in this order: pork and corn, chicken and cabbage, ham, cabbage, pork, shark fin, pork, fish, corn and duck, chicken and mushroom, lotus and pork, pork, boiled water dumplings, deep fried dumplings, fried (potstickers), pickled, chicken and mushroom, pumpkin, walnut, and baby fish dumplings in soup. I think the baby fish soup was the best. The waitress said scooping up one fish was lucky, two even luckier, three the luckiest. Some kids scooped and got none; I scooped and got four by random chance. After dinner there was a show that didn't really tickle my fancy. I was ready to go home and sleep after my big meal.

第八章 拉麵、刀削麵和餃子宴


今天在西安的午餐是這次中國之旅最值得介紹的一次,午餐是自助餐加上兩個麵擔, 自助餐不是很好,所以我直接到麵擔去,第一個麵擔做的是傳統的「拉麵」(就是將 麵拉開的意思)。師傅將麵團先揉成長條形,然後對半拉開成了二條像 繩索一樣粗的麵條,然後再對半拉開,成了四條麵條,這樣一直重複拉下去, 一直拉到滿手都是均勻對稱的無數細麵條為止。師傅將麵條下鍋,煮熟後撈起加上佐料,讓 每一位觀眾品嚐。

第二個麵擔則是傳統的「刀削麵」,(就是將麵團用刀削開的意思),這個麵擔更有看頭。 師傅先將一塊麵團在木砧板上做成土司麵包一樣的長條形狀,然後只見他 拿起一把很鋒利的刀子對準麵團,動作利落地將麵條一片片直接削到熱水鍋裡,雖然是手工刀 削,但是每一條麵條均是扁平的一樣大小,煮好後,瀝乾放碗裡,上面再加上特別 的牛肉湯汁,非常好吃,但有點太鹹,於是我又再回到拉麵擔,再吃它一碗拉麵。

麵條既容易做,容易熟,也好吃,所以一直是受到中國人歡迎的主食。一位受過特 別訓練的師傅可以在很短時間內做出好幾碗涼麵、熱麵,加辣油,加湯汁或拌醬汁。 一般的麵條都是比較長,代表長壽,因此在生日或其他節慶時都可以看到麵條上桌。

晚餐前,我們參觀了一個古代石匾博物館,各式的石頭上寫著不同的字,由於上午 看過了壯觀的兵馬俑,對於這個博物館館,大家顯得有些意興闌珊。


晚餐又是一個賣點,那就是我期待已久、著名的「餃子宴」。各式餃子餡的餃子 依序上桌,有玉米豬肉,包心菜雞肉,火腿,包心菜豬肉,魚翅,魚肉,鴨肉,蘑菇, 蓮花,黃瓜,南瓜,核桃等,餃子也分水餃、煎餃、蒸餃、鍋貼,還有小金魚湯水餃, 包羅萬象,其中小金魚湯水餃最棒。餃子店的服務生說,在湯裡一次撈到一隻金魚(餃 子)算是一般地幸運,撈到兩隻則是比較幸運的,撈到三隻就是太幸運了。我們這桌有 些同學一只也沒撈到,我則是一下杓,一不小心就撈到了四隻。雖然晚餐後還有安排有 場表演可看,但是在這頓飽餐之後,心中想的就只是趕快回家上床睡覺吧!


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