Saturday, December 12, 2015

Foods of China: Part III

Americans tend to think of the following as Chinese food: General Tso's chicken, moo shu pork, beef and broccoli, hot and sour soup, and, of course, fortune cookies.  While you can find all of these foods in Shanghai, they're available only at Fortune Cookie -- an American-style Chinese restaurant favored by expats and avoided by locals.  In reality, Chinese people would find little familiar on that list.

China offers a smorgasbord of different cuisines; each region has its own specialty food.  As part of my very sporadic series on food in China (Part IPart II), I bring you a post from Xi'an's Muslim quarter, a boisterous and delicious street food scene.

This area around the Drum Tower and Beiyuanmen in Xi'an has been home to the city's Muslim community for centuries.  Most belong to the Hui ethnic group, descended from Arabic and Persian merchants who made their way to China along the Silk Road as early as the 7th century.  Emperor Gaozong of the Tang dynasty officially allowed the practice of Islam in 651 AD.  For an interesting commentary on the treatment of Muslim minorities in modern China, see here.

Pork is often the meat of choice in China.  In the Muslim areas, though, lamb and beef predominate.
Below: lamb kebabs (yang rou chaunr, 羊肉串)


Dried fruits and nuts

Making huasheng gao (花生糕) -- peanut crisp

Spicy peanuts

Liang pi (凉皮) -- cold noodles


hongzao (红枣) -- dried jujubes 

pickled garlic.  delicious!

Yangrou paomo (羊肉泡馍), crumbled flatbread in lamb stew

Watermelon, jackfruit, cherries, and Buddha-shaped pears

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