I know, it sounds impossible. But it is true, on oh so many levels. A jiānbing (煎饼) is best described as a savory crepe with an egg spread out on top, a wonton-like cracker folded in, covered or spread with spicy sauces, and sprinkled with chopped cilantro. The entire thing is folded into a neat square and handed to you in a tiny plastic bag. Back in the days (I’m talking 2006-2007), these delicious treats went for an average of 2 yuan, (US $0.30). Breakfast, lunch, dinner: I can eat them all day every day! In recent years, prices have gone up. Still, for less than a dollar, this is one of the best culinary deals around! If you ask me, down-to-earth street food is the way to go – forget the fancy Peking Duck, scorpions on a stick, or exotic snake (or dog…). Jianbing are generally sold at little street food carts, sometimes nothing more than a bike with a kind of counter top mounted on top of it. Jianbing are much more common in the north of China, where wheat is the traditional staple food, as opposed to the south, where rice is the main crop. There’s another reason why jianbing are an excellent diner option for Westerners: no chopstick skills required!
Read another fun article about jianbings, including a recipe to try at home if you can’t make it to China between now and breakfast, here (it’s always nice to see that I’m not the only nut job out there who thinks jianbings are worth writing about).