In exchange for providing my cousin with ongoing hours of ACT and TOEFL prep, my uncle bought me food which my dad brought back food from his trip to China. There is nothing I'd rather have, especially as the food they got is just unobtainable here in the U.S., or it's really expensive, or the shipping fee costs more than the actual food product. Wuhan is a city in Hubei province, and my uncle and his family live there, as does a local culture of pretty delicious food. My mum always reminds me that Wuhan cuisine is quite spicy and numbing - 麻辣 (ma2 la4).
Today at lunch, my mum made some of the Hot Dry Noodles, 热干面 (re4 gan1 mian4 - it's literally called "Hot Dry Noodles" in Chinese), from a package of them that we got from my uncle. Of course, normal Hot Dry Noodles are eaten in dingy little restaurants or at street food stands in Wuhan. I remember this one time we went to my mum's friend's restaurant when I was really young, and the Hot Dry Noodles were too spicy for me, so I didn't really appreciate them.
Despite the fact that we didn't eat the straight-from-the-pot-in-a-cheap-Wuhan-eatery Hot Dry Noodles, the packaged version still reminded me of those sultry summers when I was in China, forced to eat Chinese food all the time, and being fussed over because we were "foreign". It's actually pretty funny because once, at one of those banquet dinners, my relatives ordered some fries for me and my brother because we refused to eat the Chinese dishes. The fries ended up being extremely spicy, due to the fact that the oil that the restaurant used was spicy. It's pretty funny, now that I think of it.
The Hot Dry Noodles came with packets of sauce that usually is homemade at those roadside eateries. One is a sort of chili oil with carrots and ginger, another is sesame sauce (sesame paste and sesame oil), and the other is soy sauce. The Hot Dry Noodles today were so spicy that I only used half the package of chili oil, and I had to eat a lot of bread on the side. They weren't as numbing as I remember them to be, which is a good thing. I don't really like the numbing sensation, even though it's always present in Ma Po DouFu - ma2 po2 dou4 fu3 (麻婆豆腐). I think that my brother was more zealous about these noodles than I was; he sighed that these reminded him of Wuhan. I don't feel too much nostalgia from eating these, which is a little bizarre. Even though it doesn't look sanitary (food inspections?! Psh, yeah right), if you ever go to Wuhan, you should try these! They're probably not going to be plated neatly, and the cook may tell you to hurry up and pay the few yuan already, but Hot Dry Noodles are one of the most famous dishes in Wuhan (this statement is backed up by my cousin's response to a TOEFL Speaking question).