[Editor’s note: It seems that quite a few of our readers are as fond of jianbing as we are here at China Beat HQ. This morning’s post on the tasty breakfast dish garnered a number of responses on Twitter (revealing that not everyone is a fan, though all have strong feelings on the jianbing issue), which I’ve collected below, followed by one story sent in by a reader via email. And fellow UC Irvine graduate student Aubrey Adams directed my attention to this basic recipe for jianbing, in case I (or anyone else) wants to attempt making them at home.]
From reader Marc Epstein:
Dear China Beat-
It’s difficult for me to express how moved I was by your post today on jianbing. I studied abroad in Beijing two years ago and came back in August 2010. The time in between, though, was torture.
There’s a small street near Beijing Foreign Studies University in Beijing’s college town, Haidian District, [that] study abroad students here have aptly named “Food Alley.” Only one day into my semester here in Spring of 2009 I had discovered the jianbing stand at the far end of Food Alley, past the restaurant with red lanters we creatively called “Red Lantern Restaurant,” and only one window beyond “Spicy Noodles.”
Every time I think back to that fateful early February day I’m surprised by a couple of things. One is that the jianbing stand was still open so close to Chunjie. The other is that, for me, my experience with jianbing wasn’t love at first taste. Rather, it spoke of an initial connection, one that with time could become as unbreakable as a bond between man and food possibly can.
I never went more than two days without eating a jianbing and, if I ever missed a day, I would make up for it by having two the next. When I went back to the states, I was struck by sudden cravings for my food addiction. Besides periodic headaches that may or may not have been related to the deficiency, I would also wake up in the middle of the night because of nightmares that the jianbing stand I frequented had been torn down, or somehow I couldn’t find it. I even once dreamt that the jianbing stand now only sold “Pizza Jianbings” and you could only find it two floors up a modern mall in the place of Food Alley. (I’m almost positive that pizza jianbing is the form my subconscious has taken for the fear of a changing Beijing.)
This story has a happy ending. Though Red Lantern Restaurant and most of the other restaurants that lined food alley have been torn down, the jianbing stand has thus far survived. I moved back to Haidian in August and went immediately to visit the Anhui family of three that worked the stand. They remembered me immediately and our friendship has grown stronger with each passing jianbing.
Thanks to all who have joined us in today’s jianbing-o-rama!