Kung Pao Chicken with Olives?

One of the great joys of traveling is undoubtedly the food one gets to sample. That applies not only to the local specialties. When traveling, I always like to taste how different cultures handle cuisines that are exotic to them. For example, how often do you see mayonaise on those fries that came with your burger? That’s how you’ll normally get them in Europe.

Chinese or Thai cuisines are my favorite ‘culture barometers,’ since they taste completely different everywhere: each culture injects a bit of their own taste into it. In Prague, for example, you will be hard-pressed to find a Chinese restaurant that does not automatically serve their dishes with parsley, cucumber and tomato (the two Czech staple vegetables) on the side. In the US, on the other hand, you almost always get the convenient ¨soup, eggroll or salad¨ choice with your Chinese meals. I certainly did not see that anywhere in China.

Today on the Costa Brava in Spain, I actually saw Kung-Pao chicken garnished with lettuce and olives. Part of the Spanish-Chinese diet, I imagine?