Spicy Noodles in Nanchang

“I’m starving!” I said, as we finished a long morning organizing the new student coffee shop at Jiangxi Agricultural University.

“I know just the place,” said my friend Greg, English professor at the school in Nanchang, China.

We walked across the road to a row of dingy stalls, crowded with students on their lunch break.  He suggested visiting the last stall, claiming it had the best food around.  The corrugated shack was only big enough to hold an old woman cooking noodles in a large pot over a charcoal fire.  She was four and half feet tall, wearing old peasant clothes and a dirty apron. Her stall had a counter to place your order and a decrepit picnic table out front for the diners.  There were only two items on the menu – plain noodles, and spicy noodles.

“I’ll have the spicy noodles,” I said. “I’m living dangerously on this trip!”

The old woman grabbed a handful of noodles with her gnarled hands and threw them into the pot.

In time, the old woman yelled something in the local dialect.  Order up!  She scooped out the noodles and plopped them down on a thin paper plate.  For my lunch special, she dumped a mystery mixture of oils and peppers onto the plate.

Being chopstick challenged, I produced my washable plastic fork. The taste was amazing.  It turned out to be the best meal I had in China.  It was the best value too, a tasty student lunch for 35 cents.

Spicy noodle for lunch in Nanchang, China
Best Noodles in China!

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Crashing the Local Wine Garden in Vienna

Today was cold and rainy.  We walked around Salzburg’s old town, but the girls were cold and didn’t enjoy it.  Plus, we have seen a few shopping areas already on this trip.  We had lunch in a deli, and bought two mini sacher tortes at Demel’s chocolate and cake store.  By mid-afternoon we got in the car for the 3 ½ hour drive to Vienna.  It poured the whole way.

Cafe Mozart in Salzburg, Austria

Our destination was a small country hotel called Fuhrgassl-Huber in a village on the outskirts of Vienna.  The hotel also makes their own wine from the vineyard behind the hotel.  For dinner we walked down the street to a traditional Viennese wine garden restaurant.  The décor is like an old hunting lodge, with thick dark timbers and low booths and wood tables.  It was very crowded with locals.  We figured out that the ordering was cafeteria/deli style, where you take your tray up to the counter and pick out what you want to eat from the display cases.  They had many different deli vegetable dishes, as well as pork ribs, chicken, and fish.  This place had simple local food at cheap prices, only 15 Euros for our entire meal.  There was only one table open in the entire restaurant, upstairs in the mezzanine area.  So we took that table, only to be told (in an unfriendly way) by the waitress that the table was reserved.  Ooops.  We didn’t know.  We’re tourists from out of town.  There wasn’t a sign.  We stayed put.  The upstairs area was very hot and stuffy, and the kitchen heat and stray smoke rose to gather under the peak of the building.  It was an authentic gastronomic experience.