Saturday, 3 March 2012

What do the Chinese eat for breakfast?

When we were living in the UK, Saturday mornings were one of my favourite times: freshly brewed coffee, eggs on toast and as leisurely a breakfast with the papers as we could mange with F and L bombing about. On previous trips to China, breakfast was the one homely meal that we clung onto for dear life,trekking across town to buy imported cereal or at the very least we made porridge: oats are quite expensive but not too hard to find.

This time we've gone native. It wasn't necessarily a conscious decision but somehow the local diet now seems to make sense and is actually rather good. Perhaps it's all these years thinking about China from a distance. So what is on offer for breakfast in China?

Well, unsurprisingly, rice! Rice porridge or my favourite, 黒米粥 black rice porridge which comes out a lovely purple colour. It's quite bland but it's warming and nutritious and I'm really very keen on it. To make rice porridge you simmer a mixture of glutinous rice (white and black if possible), ordinary rice, a few mung beans or aduki beans and some dried fruits and berries if you have them. This is cooked for about 2 hours. If anyone ever does this before breakfast I'm not sure but we've been carefully heating it up, or usually taking the lazy option of  buying it in the canteen, at 6 pence for ordinary and 8 pence for black our budget can just about manage it!

With your porridge you can have any of the following (usually fried) extras: eggs, spring onion pancake, battered banana, mashed potato pastry, steamed bread with various fillings... Also, the essential, a bit of flavour- a little side dish of super sour pickled vegetables to really wake your taste buds! Also on offer are big bowls of spicy meaty noodles. We've yet to find a meat-free version but when we do I'm ready. Our culinary research continues...

Not only is it much cheaper to eat as the locals do, I'm really getting into it. I would never say no to the Saturday Guardian and some scrambled eggs or a croissant but for now, I'll stick with the pickled vegetables.

Are there any culinary traditions you could never give up? I'd love to know :)


  1. Hi alilsathanks to hazel, I have now read all your post, what a fantastic journey you and j and the kids are doing, give a good hug to our Ruthie's grand kids, I can just imagine f and l starting to play in brilliant that you're getting your life balance sorted it his way...
    Talking of balance, my shared chi gung practice today was the 5 animals, I love the way Chinese use the animals to stretch and maintain their health, look forward to hearing about your further discoveries, much love to you all, Camille

  2. Thanks Camille, lovely to hear from you. I'd love to learn more about chi gung, I guess I must be in a good place to do so! love to you and yours and thanks for your support xx