Arriving and leaving Xian were two experiences I do not wish to repeat, but I did love staying in Xian, a very different experience to Shanghai. After a long night on a train (though I must add a very comfortable, air conditioned train with no children pooing) and having to walk from the train station to our bus in the heat, we arrived at our hotel to find the power was out and that we could not check in until later that day. Off we all went, smelly, tired and in desperate need of a shower and a coffee! But instead we went on a walking tour of the main areas of Xian. Whereas Shanghai is a modern city, Xian is the complete opposite and the main point in the centre of the city is the drum and bell towers. The city is also surrounding by a wall – the north, south, east and west. After finding out that we still couldn’t check in, we decided to go for lunch and Tao was very excited about where he was taking us – a restaurant that only sold a lamb and bread soup.
The walk to the restaurant was wonderful. We went through all of these streets selling the most amazing food and such a variety too. Walnuts and dates were everywhere – yum! The stall owners would pre-crack the walnuts and then throw them into this machine that would heat them and allow salt to fall into the cracks and then they sold them – warm, salty nuts mmmm!! Back to the lamb and bread soup! This has been a traditional meal for some time as it is very nutritious, filling and warm! We get to the restaurant and you are given a bowl with 2-3 pieces of flat bread. The customer must then break the bread into very small bits, the smaller the better as Tao kept telling us, as it will soak up the soup. It was actually harder to do than first thought but it the end we had a bowl full of small bits of bread. Then you take your bowl downstairs to the cook and hand over your bowl and you in return get a tag with a number on it and a plate of pickled garlic. Not too long after the swap a waiter comes upstairs with your bowl calling out your number and you make the swap and have an amazing bowl of chunky lamb and bread soup in front of you that you eat with the pickled garlic.
You have to eat the soup from the outside in and do not stir it all up – I don’t know why but Tao insisted that this was the best way to eat the soup. OMG it was amazing – one of the best meals!!!!