Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Eating and other things in Kunming…

Up to now I haven’t talked about any food in Kunming, but we were treated to 3 banquets over the course of the week and spent the other four meals at our favorite “Western” restaurant…..Salvador’s!!  

We first met one of the owners of Salvador’s when we were in China in 2010.   Colin and his wife A-Ling quickly became some of our favorite people and eating at his restaurant was a wonderful, relaxing experience!!   On this trip we only got to see them for a short period of time and were excited to find out that they were expecting their first child in October.  We did, however,  get to spend some quality time in their restaurant.  During those times we noshed on Nachos, Quesadillas, Basil Chicken Sandwiches, Hamburgers and more.  My favorite desert was called the “Star Destroyer” and was a thick, rich chocolate cake with ice cream, whipped cream and a smattering of chocolate syrup.   After eating nothing but Chinese for 10 days, it was heaven!!!

One of the things that we love about Salvador’s is that they are committed to helping young women from rural areas to learn to live and prosper in a city environment.   Colin has recently written a book about their experiences of starting the restaurant and I would highly recommend  it.  It is called “Great Leaps” by Colin Flahive……..

Great Leaps: Finding Home in a Changing China by [Flahive, Colin]

….and when I just checked it on Amazon, it was free for Kindle.

One of our banquets was held on Sunday, and was hosted by Michael’s sponsor here, Wen Wang.  It took a long time to go thru the menu book and pick out which dishes to order…… DSC08155

I have never understood how they can order the food for the banquet so perfectly!!!  There is seldom much left over!!!

Our favorites for this evening were these chili infested mushrooms…..


They were so yummy.

This looked like a steamed bun but was actually a perfectly roasted potato…..


There was a wedding going on at the hotel where we ate and the Bride and Groom were greeting their guests outside of the front door…..


They were handing out cigarettes and hard candies to each of their guests.

As we were leaving the hotel we passed their car appropriately decorated for the event……DSC08172


On Wednesday, I went out for a long walk, ending up in a downtown pedestrian mall.  It was lunch time and I was feeling a bit peckish, so I plucked up my courage and approached one of the outdoor stands…..


…. and purchased my lunch…..


These three delightful treats were well cooked pork (I think), sprinkled with a chili powder mixture.   The server “asked” me if I wanted the powder and I motioned yes.  Then he and the other servers had a good laugh, thinking that it was going to be way too hot for me.  After I had eaten two of the three sticks, I approached the stand again and motioned a thumbs up to let them know that I had enjoyed my lunch.  They all smiled!!!

I wasn’t able to finish all three of them, but didn’t want to throw the extra one away.  I offered it to a beggar checking out the trash can and he shook his head “NO”.   Maybe he knew something that I didn’t !!!!

I will say that I didn’t have anything to drink and my lips were burning so I stumbled into a McDonald’s ice cream stand and came away with a vanilla ice cream in a coffee flavored cone.  It was the only one that had a picture that I could point to!!!!


The ice cream was interesting as it had a slight tangy flavor to it, almost like a touch of lemon.  But whatever the flavor, it cooled my burning mouth.

As I walked back to the hotel, I passed a Catholic church….


….and several “Apple” stores.  We read once that there were only 2 REAL Apple stores in Kunming.   I wonder if it was this one……


….or maybe this one……


On Wednesday evening, we were taken for another meal, this time by Professor Lee (a different one than in Beijing) and his wife.  I had offered to take a taxi out to the University but he said that he would send a driver.  That “driver” ended up being his wife!!!  She was very sweet and we had a fun time talking as we made the 45 minute drive to meet the others. 

As we waited for everyone to arrive, she carefully looked thru the menu and ordered our banquet.  There were several favorites on the table this time including……

…..SPICY mushrooms served on a beautiful plate with words that wished for good fortune……



….tender lotus stems served in a beautifully shaped dish……DSC08188

….yummy potato pancakes that were designed to be eaten with a soup, but we ate them by themselves…..


….and raw “Ice Plant” that was served on ice and with a salted soy dipping sauce and a spicy dipping sauce……DSC08189

The empty dishes at the meal’s end looked very sad indeed…..


We had a laugh at this woman as we were leaving the restaurant.   She had found a very imaginative way to water the flower boxes on the other side of the water feature…..


Our final food outing in Kunming was on Friday night and was also hosted by Professor Lee and his wife.   This time his daughter and son-in-law joined us, as well as one of his students who was good friends with his daughter.   Yunnan Province is well known for its mushrooms and we drove about 45 minutes out of Kunming to a very famous Mushroom Hot-Pot restaurant.  As we walked in, we first noticed the huge trays of mushrooms being unloaded……


The colors and varieties of the mushrooms were amazing and very beautiful…..DSC08250DSC08252DSC08231DSC08232

There were groups of workers sitting around large baskets of mushrooms and using small knives and scrapers to clean the mushrooms…..


They all had a good laugh at me after I took this photo!!!  As Michael put it, we were DEFINITELY the center of attention!!!

We were led to an upstairs room and the hot-pot arrived…..


It looked so beautiful as it started to boil and cook the various mushrooms.   Just as she brought the pot in, the student said “you have to really know how to cook these or they can be poisonous”…..well, that’s encouraging!!!!

As the pot boiled, the mushrooms slowly turned wonderful colors and the aroma became increasingly  enticing…..


Our table setting was an indication of good things to come……


The bowl on the left has chili peppers and other herbs.  Cooking water from the hot-pot was added to it to make a delicious dipping sauce.  The tall cup contains tea, the shorter one has beer and the fruit in the back is called Longan (also known as “Eye of the Dragon”) which is a type of Lychee.  It was a great accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

We began the meal by eating the mushrooms and bits of meat that were already in the pot and then they slowly added other vegetables…..





and greens…….


We left the restaurant happy, full and contented with our time in Kunming.  The drive back took us through a 2 mile tunnel and along a long highway with virtually no traffic.  It was the perfect end to our stay!!!

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