Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All this for less than $1.50

Q is for qiáo (桥) or bridge. Or more importantly, the qiáo in guòqiáomǐxiàn (过桥米线) "Over the Bridge Noodles." The part of China in which we live is famous for "Over the Bridge Noodles." And in order to bring you the best of local culture, I made a special visit to a nearby noodle restaurant. But first... the story:

In more ancient times there lived a scholar who, in diligent preparation for his examinations, sought the peace and quiet of a lake island. He stayed in a little shelter there, and his loving wife would bring him meals every day across a long, connecting zig-zag bridge. He was so engrossed in his studies, however, that he often forgot to eat. The food, having already traveled far, would turn cold and unappetizing. As he became more and more thin, his wife worried for his health. One day she sent a nourishing hen in a pot, which he once again neglected to eat. When his wife arrived, she noticed the untouched meal and thought that surely it would be inedible. To her surprise, when she uncovered the pot, the hen and broth were still hot. In this way, she discovered that the oil from the fat of the hen would keep the broth hot and that she could even add cold vegetables and noodles to it to be cooked. From then on she brought a pot of hot broth covered with a film of oil and, separately, the other ingredients to be added and cooked later. And her husband could always have a hot meal.

This is the premise of "Over the Bridge Noodles"... a bowl of hot chicken broth with a sealing film of oil to which you add uncooked greens, meat, and noodles.

So sparing no expense... I took the #66 bus to The Brothers Jiang, which is a noodle serving franchise with locations all over the city and specializing in "Over the Bridge Noodles." Tons of business folks and students grab a quick lunch here every day. Natives will tell you that there are other, more authentic places to get the "Over the Bridge" experience; but this restaurant is pretty popular and well-known. So I put my nine yuan (about $1.30) down for the bottom of the line, least exotic version; and here's what I received....

I'll try to identify some of the add-ins:

tofu skin on the plate with the spring onions and chives
quail egg (another Q word!)
pork slices
some unidentified meat slivers that may have been liver and squid
chicken leg
pig's foot

Then I dumped a huge bowl of rice noodles in with the rest. I added some red pepper to mine for a spicier flavor. After that, it's much like a treasure hunt. Here's the egg....

And me coming to the end. I did spoon out some of the soup to drink.

I am linking up with Teacher Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday. You can find many wonderful and creative Q posts here.

The gorgeous bridge image displayed above was taken in 1924 by Sidney D. Gamble and restored by ralph repo. It depicts the Jade Belt Bridge 玉带桥 (or Camel Back Bridge) on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing. It is "an 18th century pedestrian Moon bridge." Please check out more information about this lovely photo and bridge here.


  1. what a sweet story of love and
    serendipity! i loved the photos
    of your bridge soup.

  2. That soup looks really good. I didn't know you were living in China. That would be and experience for sure.

  3. I love this story. And the soup looks really good (but I'd have to skip the liver thank you!) Thanks for the info on the bridge photo, it is just gorgeous! Kathy

  4. Steph...what a wonderful post! Cool story, nice meal, and what a fabulous looking bridge...Glad I stopped by...Peace and blessings

  5. You always have such interesting stories to tell about China. That story was so sweet. I guess wives all through times have worried about their husbands. Lovely picture of the bridge. The soup looks delish. Great Q word you chose.

  6. what an amazing photo ... that bridge is just gorgeous! I enjoyed the story ... fascinating Q word ... I think you move to the head of the class for this one!

  7. I always envy American who live in another country for a while, I often wonder how I would manage. I know it would be an experience of a lifetime. Thanks for your input on my Question.

  8. This was so interesting. I would love a big bowl of that soup-with quails eggs!

    Best wishes,

  9. What a fabulous post, and what an enchanting bridge and story. Oh, yum...I miss the food in China. It just tastes better there.

    Your writing is so lovely.

  10. That looks yummy another reason to visit China

  11. Hi Steph,
    What a lovely story for Q day, it was exciting to travel on the bus with you to the restaurant, great choice BTW. The soup looks so appetising, my tummy has started to rumble!
    Must be time for lunch.

  12. Steph, This was wonderful! I'm not sure about me eating quail eggs though! :)

  13. Over-The-Bridge-Soup! What a great story! Nice shots of the food too!
    I wish I could visit you in China! Maybe when my ship comes in!
    Best wishes,

  14. What a great story & soup! Thanks for my visit to China :-)


  15. Wow!

    This post really qualifies for most original Q post of the week I think!

    The story was charming, the photo of the bridge magical and your soup, quite intriguing...although I might have found it difficult to put a few of those ingredients in there!

    Steph, you never cease to amazing me as I journey through Alphabe-Thursday each week...and this week is no exception!

    You are really a neat person to know!


  16. Such a romantic story, Steph...
    Have you a great day!

    Mine is here
    Happy Sensational Thursday!

  17. That story was wonderful. I don't think I'd have put all of that into the soup but it does look delicious. Great Q!

  18. Stepheny, your blog is delightful :-) Lovely photo's of the soup (I love noodles!), and sweet and thoughtful commentary.

    Have a lovely day.


  19. I would have had to skip a couple of those additions but this was a very interesting Q post. How fascinating to be able to live and work in China! Found you through Alphabe-Thursday. Now following. :)

  20. I loved learning about the bridge over the noodles!! There's a little restaurant in town that serves soup like this but I've never heard it called such! And all the for $1.30? Wow!

  21. Beautiful photo of the bridge! I would love have that bowl of noodle, minus the meat!

  22. Oh, that sounds so heavenly! I love Asian food of all kinds. I would love to try chicken feet! It certainly isn't on the menu in the bitty town I live in in Indiana!

  23. that looks like a big bowl of comfort...i could go for a big bowl of it right this very minute.

  24. I am afraid I might have cheated. I tried to do only the even numbers but I consider 1 an odd number so I was confused I was suppose to start there. But I did and I should have skipped over your post but I always enjoy your post. I cheated. Loved your post as always. I love learning new things about the country you are living in.

  25. What an amazing story, and the effort to make it come alive for us! that was great.

  26. A interesting story....I like chinese food... it all looks good except for the egg.

  27. Steph,
    What a wonderful experience...thank you for sharing a part of the culture where you live. Great photos and what a neat, neat story! I read the Little Old Women to my pre-k class and it is about dumplings and is so good! i love stories that have a tie-in to food, guess it is because i love food! Thaks for stopping by my post!

  28. Steph, how I enjoy my visits to your blog. You have the most interesting things to share with us, and I always learn something new. The bridge is a beautiful image, but the soup looks delicious.

  29. What an interesting post! I love to learn something new - the food, the story were wonderful!

  30. I love the story and I love the noodles.....what a great post!!!!

  31. Cute blog. I'm following you back. I'm glad I did. Take care.


  32. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am thrilled to find another blogging buddy, and one in China. I'm adding you to my roll. I'll be back!

  33. I think this is one of my favorite Q posts this week! Do quail eggs taste significantly different than chicken eggs?

  34. Looks really tasty - better sometimes not to know the exact ingredients tho'!! Great Q post

  35. Happy Saturday to you, Step,

    Thanks for sharing that story with us. I too, learn something new every day in blog land!

    The picture of that bridge is breath-taking! How blessed you are to be able to live in such a historical place and see first hand the way other cultures live. Thanks for sharing!!

  36. I loved this post - anything about food always thrills me as my not girlish figure can attest. I love Asian food of any in the San Francisco area is wonderful as all is available to me. Pho is here everywhere, very reasonable, but this soup looks spectacular and what a bargain!

  37. A simply lovely story! Thank you for sharing a bit of China with us :o)

    I do so appreciate your sweet comments at my place.
    Blessings & Aloha!
    We are still spending time in KY with our kids...wish we lived only a couple hours drive, instead of a couple states away!


Thank you for your comments. They help me feel that I am some how connected out here in Blogland and not just writing to the air.


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