We've had the fortune and privilege of being invited to partake many homecooked meals in Zhongdian. Hearty down-to-earth dishes that are mighty familiar food to us. Living in Asia means that we see these combinations of vegetables, meats, spices and herbs on a regular basis at most families' dinner tables and casual eateries. Think of the idea of 'three dishes and one soup' (三菜一汤) that Southeast Asia knows well across cultures and ethnicities.
The food tends to be on the oily and salty side. So oily till it's scary. There were a few times when I was THIS CLOSE to taking over the frying pan and loudly proclaim "I'll cook." We keep reminding every kitchen and eatery to put less of them and no MSG. But for us, the hosts took extra effort to cut down on the oil and the salt especially in our homecooked meals. Good! Besides giving the arteries and kidneys a rest, using less meant the essential cooking ingredients last longer.
Dishes aren't fancy. But I think the kitchen makes an effort to put in extra meat for us, and also extra vegetables since we declare that we love greens. Duck appeared one day just for fun. It's pricey by local standards and by Asian standards, it's a lean duck without much meat. I don't mind it at all. It's tasty without the eeky fats. And it's free-range. Heh.
The hot tasty food at either lunch or dinner was incredibly welcomed after a long day out. Getting rained on for hours and sloshing about in the mud can be rather miserable although the spirits are kept cheerful. We swooped down at the plates with eager pairs of chopsticks and forgot the ritual of taking photos. Too many people with uber-hungry stomachs. I was early for some meals by mere minutes and managed to grab a few shots before humans whooshed in. Heh. Much appreciated meals and companionship at the table.