No sense duck­ing those junk food crav­ings

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

“Where’s the beef?”— a dig at com­peti­tors’ skimpy, or nearly ab­sent, ham­burger pat­ties.

To­day, I would be tempted to ask in­stead, “Where’s the cheese?” And, with equal ur­gency, “Where’s the ba­con?”

Sure, I could quib­ble as a veteran snack con­nois­seur about how lo­cally avail­able Pringles potato “crisps”— the iconic, neatly stacked snacks in the pro­tec­tive can— are def­i­nitely not on a par with their US coun­ter­part. Or about how it’s nigh im­pos­si­ble to find a de­cent (that is, suit­ably crisp and salty) corn chip in th­ese parts. Or even about how a sugar-crazed blood­hound might be hard­pressed to find in this fine city aMounds bar, Host­ess HoHos snack cakes or col­or­ful Star­burst candy chews.

But why di­gress? It’s bet­ter to fo­cus in­stead on what are ar­guably the two most im­por­tant food groups after choco­late: namely, cheese and ba­con.

Back in the land of beef where I grewup— Omaha, Ne­braska, in the heartyMid­west in the US— I dis­cov­ered a spe­cial del­i­cacy for which I now yearn: a thick, juicy burger topped with a melted mix of sharp ched­dar and bleu cheese and a min­i­mu­mof three thick, crisp slices of the finest ba­con. Add a toasted bun, sliced red onions, let­tuce, pick­les, mayo and mus­tard and voila: manna from heaven.

In China how­ever, where cheese is not part of the usual diet, it’s gen­er­ally treated like an af­ter­thought. Or­der a pizza at most places, and the cheese is a thin gauze through which to viewthe am­ple other in­gre­di­ents. Cheese on pizza is sup­posed to be thick enough that you strug­gle with a string of gooey good­ness as you pull the first slice of “pie” away from its pan mates.

Ba­con on a burger is like­wise frus­trat­ing, when it’s of­fered at all. Typ­i­cally, it will be tough and nei­ther crispy nor juicy, and so tiny you’d need tweez­ers to pluck it from be­neath the beef patty.

We must make do when we live in a for­eign land, and I have found in Beijing what might be a wor­thy sub­sti­tute inmy hour of need— some­thing so de­lec­ta­ble I might for­get for a mo­ment the clar­ion call ofmy crav­ings.

Now, if I can just fig­ure out how to fill this won­der­fully scrump­tious Pek­ing duck with melted cheese and wrap it in hick­ory-smoked ba­con, I might seek per­ma­nent res­i­dence here. Con­tact the writer at jameshealy@chi­

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