Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chinese street pizza



A few years ago the Chinese began to make noises that they had been the ones to invent pizza. The proof was in the street food--Chinese pizza was popping up all over Beijing and Shanghai in small stores and right out on the street. Oddly, though, they didn't mention inventing the stuff until the mid-aughties, long after Pizza Hut already had a toehold in China. No matter. It was called 'Tujia Minority Chinese-style Pizza' and they were sized like the personal pan pizza you can get in America.

Tons of Chinese pizza shops and vendors set up a couple of years ago, and seemingly shut down soon after. Tujia Minority fad food, I guess.



So when I ran across these women slanging what appeared to be fried bread in the Zhichunlu are of Beijing, I had no idea what their game was, but I knew that I wanted in on it.


Painting the bread with a spread that was as mysterious as it was delicious.

It didn't look like the traditional Chinese pizza due to the size--she'd make a giant one and chop it up and serve 4-6 people with each one. The spread was a mystery to me. It didn't taste "Chinese" to me, it had a definite Italian buzz about it. I think it was made with tomatoes and/or eggplant but I'm really not sure. After she took it off grill she topped it with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.


The dough-lady thought it was hilarious that I was taking pictures. Whenever I would walk by for the rest of the week I was there, she'd wave at me.


Liberal oil is what makes it so yummy.


Putting the dough in for another batch. Note the armwarmers.

I liked this stuff so much that I ate it three days in a row. This is also because I find every visit to a (cheap) restaurant in China excruciating. My attempts to communicate in broken Chinese is met with giggles and I usually end up playing charades and acting out what I want for lunch. Street food is easy because they usually only make one or two things and you can just point and say "zh├Ęge."

For some reason, probably due to my unusual size and coloring, the woman refused to believe that I wanted just one serving, and every day gave me two. Usually I just pay with a tenner to avoid trying to communicate about how much it costs, and a tenner will always cover street food.


They serve it to you with a skewer to eat it with.

So the first day she gave me 2 bags of pizza and ¥4 back. From this, I deduced that the bags cost ¥3 each ($0.45). The next day I handed her a fiver and made a hand gesture that I thought indicated "small." Apparently it came off as "I want two servings, but in one bag for a fiver." At this point, I realized it was a lost cause. The next day I handed over a fiver and waited for my giant bag of pizza. Instead, she demanded that I give her ¥1 more, and gave me two bags of pizza. The only explanation I can give for the varying sizes and prices is that nothing in China makes any sense, and trying to understand anything is an exercise in futility. It was delicious, regardless.

6 comments:

  1. That stuff must be terribly BINDING !

    I do like those pictures, however!

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  2. Have you cooked with jujube dates? I've been putting them in stews asnd they are delicious. In Chinese medicine they are considered a tonic.

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  3. Rachel cooks? Stews? Who would have known?

    I think that pizza looks delicious. Beyond delicious. I want some.

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  4. Rachel: yes! They are in a lot of things here, like hotpot. Also, they have really delicious tea made out of those. I didn't know the name for them, so thanks.

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  5. Oh my bloody god!!! I have spent 2 weeks in Xi'an and i had that Chinese pizza one day before I leave. It was So tasty, seeing those awesome captures made my mouth water instantaneously!
    Anyone's got the recipe???

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  6. I've been craving for this for a while now and I never got its name. I worked in Shanghai for a year(2009) and I buy almost every morning when I go to work. This past pew days I've been looking on Chinese recipes and was hopping to come across this food. Was only able to find it as a picture and ended up here. Thanks for sharing :)

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