This Buddha ain’t jumping over no wall

Of all the wonderful and confusing names for food in China, my favourite has to be Buddha Jumps Over the Wall.  Originating in the southern part of the country, it is a soup that contains all sorts of meat products, a variety of seasonings (up to 30 if you are doing it properly) and shark fin (which, yes, is one of these aforementioned ‘meat products’, but is also so horribly produced, that it is worth mentioning specifically).  According to legend, BJOTW smells so wonderful that Buddhists monks have been known to escape the confines of their monastery (as well as the confines of their vegetarian diet) to sample the stuff – so good that Buddha himself would leap a wall to get it.  Just further proof that all vegetarians are carnivores in need of a good slap and a well-done steak.

Luckily for me, Shanghai is a city of options, including very good vegetarian versions of BLOTW – packed full of fake meats, including mushrooms that supposedly emulate shark fin.  I am glad that I need not succumb to the lure of the fish head and the pork chop.  Perhaps a better name would be Sam Neill Jumps Out of the Tree, though to suggest that he is in any way similar to Buddha would be a mistake.

SNJOOTT (left) with some fake-pork-gluten thing.  Sweet and deliiiicious!  And here is a roll call of some other amazing vegetarian foodstuffs I have sampled here.  It really is quite abundant and very yummy!

Generic green veg (L) and ‘sword beans’ with tapioca balls – yeah, like the stuff they put in bubble tea drinks.  This is from 9 Dragons, a Hong Kong restaurant.  These are a godsend – there are lots of them, they do good vegetarian and their menus are usually translated into English.

Similarly, Taiwanese restaurants do good veg and good English.  Just the other night, we went to an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet.  All corners of the planet were represented, from pasta to sushi, steamed buns to French fries … all converted to meat-free bliss.   The thing in the top picture with the paddle pop stick was a ‘purple blood cake’ and I guess it actually wasn’t that nice.

This is another plate stacked from the bain-marie of a veg eatery … part of the Loving Hut chain.  For the uninitiated, this chain is supported by the Supreme Master, otherwise known as Ching Hai, a Vietnamese entrepreneur who advocates animal rights and has her own cable television station.   Anyway, the food is great.

Here is some more crayzy fake meat – not really sure what it was made of or what it was trying to be, but the consumption of the noodle soup revealed a very special (and maybe offensive?) message to yours truly…

There are some local delicacies that I am really getting into, like these deep-fried corn cakes.  (Of course, I also am getting into the amazing little vegetable sculptures that sometimes appear in the food).

Here is another, lording over some steamed vegetables and an omelette.  Eggs are pretty popular here too.

And great food from stalls … steamed buns, tofu kebabs and shallot pancakes (above).

I was very excited to see some black sticky rice, topped with some gelatinous thing and served in a little cane basket.

Not to mention, my old favourite, roti canai.  To quote my good friend Mr I.E.: “The roti has gone global!”  And local … we have a very good Malaysian cafe near us, which is pioneering a new creation, the peanut butter roti.  I am in clogged-artery heaven!

Even in convenience stores, hungry vegetarians need not fear.  On every street corner, one can find neatly-chopped-and-packaged tofu blocks and sliced vegetarian sausages.  The sausages were packed full of spice and MSG, making them delicious upon consumption, but somewhat challenging on expulsion.  Sorry, too much information.

So, lots of reasons for this Buddha to stay on his chosen side of the wall (and to become a little Buddha-like in shape, unfortunately…)  With vegetarian delights like these, who needs to be eating stuff like this ….

Unidentifiable meat ball, served in greasy meat sauce.  With the deepest Buddhist willpower, I resisted.

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2 Responses to This Buddha ain’t jumping over no wall

  1. Adina West says:

    I’m going to have to keep on with the petulant demands, cos that was a fantastic post (and had both me and mum in stitches).

    Lots of fantastic looking food, and I do pity you having to walk the gauntlet of the peanut butter roti. I’ve never had one but it does sound wickedly good. Maybe not as wicked as deep fried Man Tao dipped in condensed milk, which they have in southern China…but definitely close.

    I did love the special bowl they got printed for you too. The doctor’s fame is spreading…

  2. My doctor (hey, that’s confusing…) told me today that I have too much bad cholesterol, probably from eating too many low-grade oily foods. She then clarified that it was only VERY slightly above the preferred range, so nothing to worry about really. Think I will celebrate with a peanut butter roti … or maybe just some peanut butter.

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