What the hell was I doing in Xi’an? It was so cold, dirty, and polluted. I received the most ominous of welcomings when a mother opened up her baby’s diaper trap-door only for me to go walking straight in to a flying baby turd. Worse still, Spring Festival continued and the city remained for the large part empty. The Terracotta Warriors, which I suspected were only billed as the ‘8th wonder of the world’ because you can’t help but ‘wonder’ why anyone bothers to visit this expensive tourist trap, left me feeling low to say the least. But as my stomach rumbled I remembered exactly why I was here…Suddenly a smile returned to my face. It was time for some hard-core street food action.
Arriving in the city’s Muslim Quarter I was instantly greeted by an assault on the senses: spices and freshly grilled meats filled the air, bright flashing lights advertised local delicacies and as the stall holders shouted out, hundreds of locals pushed past to get their hands on a tasty evening supper. This was food heaven.
It wasn’t long before I got stuck in. Yang rou chuan: a chilli and cumin spiced lamb kebab cooked pink on burning coals. Majiang liang pi: cold wheat noodles doused in sesame paste and chilli oil. And shi zi bing: a deep-fried persimmon cake that scorched my mouth with its sticky centre. I was feeling full and yet the eating continued. Yangrou Paomo: unleavened bread soaked in a mutton stew with roasted garlic. Kao anchun dan: spiced quails eggs on a stick. And who can forget Rou jia mo a Chinese take on a hamburger with slow stewed beef – the easiest dish to pronounce as you just need to shout Roger Moore! Just don’t go asking for your gravy shaken not stirred!
I returned for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the next two days, ordering the unknown and bartering for ‘local prices’. Here’s a selection of images taken with my grease soaked camera. Click the smaller ones to launch the gallery.