Connecting Ireland, China and Oz through food

Two of my great passions in life are travel and food.
I love to visit new places and to get authentic experiences a bit off the beaten track – more as a traveller than a tourist. Italy is my first love but my son Shane married in Beijing to his lovely Chinese wife Shan and my daughter Claire married to her “hot” (her words) Welshman Mike and living in Sydney have got me to places I never expected to visit in my lifetime, let alone return to again and again.
Shananigans was born out of a recent visit to China as I attempted to share a flavour of that roller-coaster experience in tweets and photos. By the end of the trip 140 characters no longer seemed enough to capture the small glimpse I got of that extraordinary country as it assaulted my senses and I came to terms with the way it and its people are set to get tangled up in our lives.
More than anything the visit opened my eyes to the treasures and variety of Chinese regional cuisine. I thought I had some understanding of their food from visiting Chinese restaurants here in Ireland and trying to cook it over the years but I really had no idea how rich and varied it could be and how healthy and fresh-tasting. During our 3 weeks in China I set my daughter-in-law to be Shan the challenge of finding us a different regional cuisine each night we were in Beijing. While we were in her hometown of Urumqi in Xinjiang province we got a real sense of their provincial cuisine. I handed over complete control to her allowing her to choose the number and types of dishes using her own instincts for what constituted a balanced meal. As a result every meal was a surprise and every meal worked.
By the end of the holiday I had completely rebalanced my diet – with far more and a wider variety of fresh vegetables and fruit, relatively smaller quantities of meat, fish and tofu, modest amounts of rice or noodles and virtually no processed sweets or desserts. The holiday seemed to involve almost non-stop eating in large quantities and yet I lost weight and came back feeling healthier and fitter than I had for some time.
Since I arrived back I’ve been missing the food – the spiciness, the colour, the range of different dishes in a meal, the sociability of communal eating, the chopsticks…. And so the Shananigans will continue. For starters I’ve asked Shan to teach me long-distance how to cook the Chinese way – a kind of on-line tutorial using iPhone and iPad to help source ingredients and re-create, in an authentic way, some of the dishes I enjoyed so much using the best Irish ingredients I can find. My plan is to intersperse the Chinese the blogs about food and cooking with other tales and photos of travel in China, Italy and beyond.
I hope you will join me on my journey, no doubt with many mishaps along the way and with a glorious sense that I’ve no idea where this journey will take me. So here goes with a very simple start….
Fried Green Beans


4 thoughts on “Connecting Ireland, China and Oz through food”

  1. Delighted you’ve decided to share your Chinese experiences with us in a blog. Looking forward to the various posts and recipes of dishes you tasted on your trip to China. The twitter feed whetted our appetite, now we get the full story.

  2. Love the blog, my brother thuoght China was the greatest country in world to visit, thinks I would love it, if I ever get to visit. I’m very impressed with the appearance of your page, I can’t get the hang of it, mine’s a shambles, well done.

  3. I got Shane to talk me through setting it up over Skype from China and I’m trying to keep it simple until I get the hang of it. It’s great fun so far.

Comments are closed.