The other day, I was at a luncheon with a high-placed Chinese delegation. And I felt like I kind of should apologise to my fellow diners, even though I’d paid no part in the meal’s organisation, for the food. Chinese food, to be exact. It wasn’t P.F. Chang’s, but it wasn’t much better.
I have never understood this phenomenon of ordering food that is meant to be familiar when hosting a foreign guest. When I’m abroad, I don’t want to eat some ersatz American dish, I want to eat local, preferably a dish or at a restaurant, I mightn’t have otherwise gravitated to on my own. (The one exception might be Ethiopian, which I hate, but I’m prepared to allow that perhaps I’d like it better on its home turf.) The simple fact is that local chefs making local food are more likely to turn out a good dish. Ergo, unless you’re in a really authentic Chinatown, Chinese food is better in China. And hamburgers are better here.