It was really interesting to know that Chinese people don’t know anything called chow mein, our quintessential Chinese street food.
“What? Chow mein? What’s that?”
That was truly a reaction I didn’t expect and that too especially from two young Chinese girls.
Yes. This was exactly the reaction that came from Mei and Tong, my two Chinese friends, who came to Kolkata, or Calcutta to them back in 2017 for their research purpose. When I asked them about the origin of chow mein, the quintessential street food for Bengalis, that’s how the two girls reacted.
It was surprising for me as well, as I came to know at the very same moment after that from them that in China, there is no such food available, called chow mein, momo, fried rice. Yes, it might sound funny to many. But, it is true.
In China, they have noodles, dumplings rice, etc. But, they are absolutely different from our very own ‘Chinese’ foods.
Born and brought up in Kolkata and a being die-hard lover of street foods, especially Chinese foods, Mei and Tong’s reaction came literally as a cultural shock to me and I asked them, “What? You two are from China and you don’t know what chow mein is?”
I grew up seeing so many Chinese food joints around and suddenly learning that they are not at all ‘Chinese’ was truly shocking. However, when it is about food and as far as my taste buds are happy with it, I have no complaints at all. That’s why despite being shocked I was not at all disheartened.
It’s been more than three years since I learned that chow mein is not Chinese food. But, honestly, I am not at all bothered, with those salty, overtly oily ‘chow mein’ or those white rice turned into ‘fried rice’ by simply frying or even the half-baked momo – whether it is genuine Chinese or Indian version of Chinese.
Though the 50-200 nanometer-sized SARS-CoV-2 virus that rocked the world in last nearly 400 days, has snatched away a lot of regular and normal things from our lives, including the casual evening strolls for chai, chaat, and chow mein from many of our lives; but my love for chow mein is indomitable and undying.
You may call me crazy. But, I will still shout Wo ai chi! I love chow mein. I love Chinese food.
Also Read: Kuari Pass: Trek to Lord Curzon’s trail