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Daoxiangcun Grazing: Part Four

1)果酱盒 (guǒjiàng hé—”jam box”)  RMB 1.20 per sandwich “Jam box” makes this snack sound way more amusing than it is. To my dismay, chomping down on this cookie sandwich didn’t throw me into an instant dance party; however, it did trigger an explosion of crumbs. I recommend twisting the ends apart like an Oreo cookie […]

12·14·2010

Daoxiangcun Grazing: Part Four

1)果酱盒 (guǒjiàng hé—”jam box”)  RMB 1.20 per sandwich “Jam box” makes this snack sound way more amusing than it is. To my dismay, chomping down on this cookie sandwich didn’t throw me into an instant dance party; however, it did trigger an explosion of crumbs. I recommend twisting the ends apart like an Oreo cookie […]

12·14·2010

1)果酱盒 (guǒjiàng hé—”jam box”) 

RMB 1.20 per sandwich

“Jam box” makes this snack sound way more amusing than it is. To my dismay, chomping down on this cookie sandwich didn’t throw me into an instant dance party; however, it did trigger an explosion of crumbs. I recommend twisting the ends apart like an Oreo cookie and eating them separately. This will minimize your childish appearance cast by the dusting of crumbs spilling down your front side. What is this Daoxiangcun obsession with shortbread, really? As for the jelly—pretty sure this cookie is filled with hawthorn jelly. It’s got a sour tang that’s initially off-putting but eventually the taste buds become immune to the minor sting and the flavor becomes more palatable. Still, I’m not super thrilled with this find.

Overall rating: Meh, it’s all right.

Other “guojiang” words:

果浆 (guǒjiāng): a fruit’s pulp

Grind something to a pulp: 把东西研磨成浆。Bǎ dōngxi yánmó chéngjiāng

过奖 (guòjiǎng): flatter

Modest people use this word: “哪里,哪里, 你过奖了” (“Nǎlǐ, nǎlǐ, nǐ guòjiǎngle”—”No, no, it was nothing”—there’s no need for such flattery).

2) 地瓜酥 (dìguā sū—sweet potato strudel)

RMB 1.04 per roll

Tastes like Pillsbury Toaster Strudel. If only I had the icing to go with and maybe an oven to warm the roll in and it would be a true taste sensation. Nevertheless, it’s a nice mix of textures and sweet-savory flavors. And then there’s the fact that I’m a devoted sweet potato fan in all shapes and forms…

Overall rating: Love it. 

3) 起子馍 (qǐzi mó—”steamed baking powder bread”)

RMB 1.20 per biscuit

Basically, this is shortcake. Thus, it needs strawberries and whipped cream to complete it. Again, it’s a good stomach lining coater for coffee addicts with developed or developing ulcers. Dry like a scone, this “steamed baking powder bread” is also a good accompaniment to your morning coffee…

Overall rating: Meh, it’s all right.

P.S: Speaking of mó (馍), China’s version of a hamburger, 肉夹馍 (ròujiāmó), is spectacular. However, I still can’t help but stumble whenever I say “ròujiámó” because the pronunciation bears a striking resemblance to the former James Bond actor’s name, Roger Moore. Don’t you think?

4) 绿豆饼 (lǜdòu bǐng—mung bean cake)

RMB 1.60 per block

This cake took a few tries in order to wipe the frown from my face. I was torn over the strange perfume flavor of the mung bean paste and its pairing with the cake’s crusty shell. If it were up to me, I would swap textures for a moist outer cake layer. Alas, I do not work at Daoxiangcun, nor do they have a suggestion box. I suppose my enjoyment of this mung bean cake was not meant to be.

Overall rating: Meh, it’s all right.

More on the mung bean:

Mung beans aren’t just good for their pods, but also for their starch and sprouts. The starch is extracted from ground mung beans and deliciously transformed into cellophane noodles (粉丝—fěnsī). In northern China, these jelly-like threads are a popular summer dish known as 凉粉 (liángfěn—chilled bean jelly). Mung bean sprouts grow submerged in water and basking in sunlight during a four-day germination period. These crispy strings are known by a variety of names: 豆芽 (dòuyá—bean sprout), 芽菜 (yácài—sprout vegetable) or 银芽(yínyá—silver sprout).

5) 抹茶酥 (mǒchá sū-mocha green tea cake)

RMB 1.70 per flower

With each trip to Daoxiangcun, my gaze would linger on the delicate, rose-like appearance of this treat and I would admire its mossy green color. Yet, for some reason, my searching eyes would always move on to some other less eye-catching food formation, which I would select as the new day’s sample. Finally, the day came that I couldn’t resist the allure… My colleague, Freddie Green, offered to help taste test after I presented the edible rose to him with giddy anticipation. Here is his review (which he sent to me entitled “Cake Thing”):

“It starts to go wrong as soon as you look at it. With a murky green color that bears an uncanny resemblance to Shrek’s backside, the Mo Cha isn’t one to wet those taste buds. The taste itself is striking, I’ll admit, but not in the positive sense. It feels like there’s enough sugar to dissolve most of the enamel of your teeth within minutes. The chewy texture in the centre only means that this unfortunate flavor lingers for a while. We believe (from the name) that this was an attempt to recreate the taste of green tea in a cake. If so, poor effort.”

Traitor! The beauty of this mocha cake is completely lost on him. To note, he’s purposely being melodramatic. However, truth be told, I’d say the flavor more tormented than tickled his taste buds. I, on the other hand, was able to overcome the irritation of the usual shortbread crumbs that had jumped onto my lap (such pretty green flakes!), and indulge in the inner paste filling. The green tea flavor is a bit of an acquired taste. Every other bite of this herbal essence filled me with doubt. Did I like the flavor or was I just bewitched by its silky smooth filling? In any case, I couldn’t let it go to waste, as evidenced when I threw a hand out before Freddie could pitch his unwanted leftovers into the waste basket. Sacrilege.

Caroline’s overall rating: Love it.

Freddie’s overall rating: Thanks, but no thanks.

6) No Name Cake; a.k.a., Creepy Eyeless Clown Cake (despite the stamped image clearly being China’s ancient form of money)

 

RMB 1.4 per cake

Brand new addition to Daoxiangcun, guys! It hasn’t even been formally named yet! Okay, enough with the exclamation points. Once again, Freddie offered his hand, and his taste buds, to judge the quality of this Daoxiangcun item. Sadly, try as we might, we couldn’t diverge on our mutually positive reviews.

First bite… Nodding… Thinking… “Mmm! That’s actually quite nice!” We could have been looking in a mirror as our reactions were identical.

Freddie’s review:

“The sight of this pleasant little potato shaped snack staring up at you with a gleaming smile is enough to put even the grumpiest food connoisseur in a cheery mood. Our flakey friend here comes decorated with a strange red pattern that looks a lot like a big grin, setting a high standard for the rest of the tasting experience. Indeed, the crumbly texture, as well as the sweet filling don’t disappoint, and this cheery little xiaochi (snack) will put a lasting smile on your face, too.”

There’s just no denying it without crying from the guilt of lying: this is a very pleasant treat.

Overall rating (the feeling’s mutual): Love it.

 

Key to ratings from highest satisfaction to lowest:

  1. “Heaven!”
  2. “Love it.”
  3. “Meh, it’s all right.”
  4. “Thanks, but no thanks.”