This is one of the novelties I’ve seen in Beijing. There is great food everywhere, but once you are in the Forbidden City, the Imperial Palace in the heart of the city, there are no restaurants, but only snack corners and tea stands. They kicked out Starbucks from their small counter last year, because a high official had campaigned against this foreign invasion in their Chinese cultural heartland so to speak (it was replaced by a counter selling Chinese coffee from Yunnan province). The snack booth in the imperial garden sold quick noodles the last time I was there.
Now all the noodles had gone, perhaps because they were sold out. The only thing on the shelves were square paper boxes saying SHLF-HEATING MEAL. Attendants opened the box, tore open the plastic cover on the white rice, and tore open some package with meat, veg and sauce. Then they pulled a white ribbon and handed it over on a small tray.
Underneath the white plastic box with rice-and-sauce was a small cushion with inside a self-heating substance, so this meal would warm itself from below within about 8 minutes. The tray was there because it became really steaming hot. The meal itself was lousy (and 15 yuan, about 1.5 euros), which can buy you a dish of Chicken Kongpao in just any restaurant.
Pieces of chicken (?) with bones all inside it, plus some potatoes and a kind of gravy. The rice rather hard. But still, where can they invent these things but in China?
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