Monday, July 7, 2014

My Fourth of July in Hengyang, China

If I had been in Beijing, Hong Kong, or Shanghai on July 4th, I would have had many well-suited options for places to celebrate America's Independence Day. Off the top of my head, I can also easily think of such places in other Chinese cities such as Changsha, Kunming, Nanning, Xining, and Zhuhai.

However, enjoying a bit of American spirit proved more challenging in Hengyang, Hunan province, and required some improvisation.

My attempts during the evening to find proper American-style food not from a fast food chain restaurant were not fruitful. But a beer at a cafe caught my eye, and I decided to drink my first American Budweiser in a rather long time.

An bottle of American Budweiser with a Chinese label

Unlike Zhuhai, I have yet to see anything approaching a hoppy beer in Hengyang.

Not by design, I later continued the beer theme and picked up a Pabst Blue Ribbon World War II memorial beer with an explicit US military theme.

A World War Two edition of Pabst Beer in China with an image of a soldier and "Yes We Can"

Pabst Blue Ribbon World War Two beer in China

I first saw this beer in far away Changchun 4 years ago, and I still would like to speak with the team who designed the can.

At the same supermarket, I picked up another item. The BBQ steak flavored Pringles definitely had much more of a taste than the beer despite lacking a military theme.

A can of Chinese BBQ Steak Pringles

I wasn't sure how I could properly followup beer and potato chips. When I saw a Dairy Queen the answer became obvious—an Oreo Blizzard.

Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard in China

I was now ready for the main meal. I thought my best option would be another supermarket where hopefully I could buy ingredients to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But by the time I arrived it had closed.

So I gave up on avoiding fast food and headed to KFC for some fried chicken to wash down the beer, chips, and ice cream. Protein, grains, vegetables, and dairy—a good American diet, right?

After waiting in something approximating a line at KFC, the server explained it would be another 30 minutes until the fried chicken was ready. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something incredible about that.

Whatever the case, I didn't want KFC that much.

I decided to call it night. The earlier delights combined with a long walk in extremely muggy weather had decreased my appetite anyway. But later I noticed a store with a selection of foods similar to the Bart Simpson themed snack store, so I picked up something to top it all off—Filipino coconut water and Chongqing spicy peppers.

Can of Philippine Brand 100% Coconut water and bag of Chonqing crips peppers

I just pretended I was enjoying freedom water and freedom peppers.


  1. Can you describe those spicy peppers? Are they entire peppers that are dehydrated or deep fried, like potato chips? How spicy are they?

    1. I'd describe them as sliced peppers cooked like potato chips in vegetable oil. Peanuts and some other ingredients are typically included as well. These ones are moderately spicy—not as incredibly spicy as what you can get at local shops in Chongqing, where you can typically choose the degree of spiciness. Good stuff.