Its been a couple of weeks and a few thousand kilometers since Bayannuur.
After that, I went on an epic train journey through Hohhot, Chifeng, Tongliao and Qiqihar – arriving three days and some visible beard growth later back in Hailar.
Hailar was basically the three r-s, resting, riting, and running so apart from the fact that I had fun doing all three, there isn’t much to report. After a couple of weeks, I finally got back on a plane and headed to Shenzhen, crossed into HK and ended up at the Hyatt, which was inexplicably not only the cheapest option, but also the one that upgraded me to a suite.
I subsequently moved to a cheaper option, but eventually thought since I can’t use the CUHK library on weekends, that I should get out of HK and go back over the border to Shenzhen, a place that I have repeatedly been through, but never spent any time in.
So I did, and apart from much nicer hotels (not you Hyatt, I will always love you), Shenzhen is – interesting! I aways had the bias that Shenzhen is not worth seeing because it’s a new city, which it was when it was founded over 30 years ago. For those of you counting at home, that’s a long time, and Shenzhen is now an interesting, and pretty fun place.
Since Shenzhen is full of migrants, it has food and culture from all over China, and especially from all over Guangdong. One dish that immediately caught my attention was something called “Shunde double skin milk.” (顺德双皮奶)
This is for two reasons, first milk – duh – and second because Shunde is a place that I associate with a specialty water buffalo cheese (酪). I saw a place selling this as I walked from the train station to my hotel, and a few hours later traced my steps back. Here’s what I found.
Basically it’s a steamed milk custard. I asked why it was “double” skin and nobody seemed to know. What they did know is that I should also order this:
That’s right kids, it’s fried milk, that same stuff you see in every American Chinese restaurant. I had always assumed that fried milk was up there with fortune cookies in its sheer fakeness. Whenever I saw it on a menu, I felt it my responsibility to roll my eyes and heave an audible sigh.
Well, it turns out I wasn’t dead, I was just in Kansas. And also fried milk is delicious. More specifically, it is delicious once. It’s pretty heavy stuff.
Double skin milk, on the other hand, yeah, I definitely wanted that again, so I went to another place that looked and was older – they have been making this same dish for twenty years. Even better than yesterday. This one was made with actual water buffalo milk, which they get delivered every morning. The taste was richer, and the skin on top was a layer of butterfat.