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Various Chinese cuisines


Toby
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What are the flavorings "typical" of Manchurian cookery? What type of cooking vessels were traditionally used? Prefered meats and vegetables? Are there any fermented sauces, bean pastes for instance? Is the food spicy? Pickled dishes? How is a Manchurian table set, everything served together? What are the components of a meal, rice, soup, pickle, protein dish?

looking forward to some responses.

Cooking vessels at home, I can't think of anything offhand that you can't buy at a western store. Possibly, in some villages, there were communal pieces of equipment that are pretty esoteric. The only one I can think of is a giant flat griddle about 2 ft wide for making paper thin cakes made of corn.

Meats, definately pork, Chicken and lamb less so and beef very rarely. The explaination given to me was that beef was muslim food and the ethnic chinese didn't eat it.

Manchurian food seems to rely a lot on pickling the same as a lot of cultures in that climate. Pickled cabbage is a big one, nearly every home used to have a big clay cabbage fermenter although I've heard they've officially banned home production after a spate of food poisoning although it's not really tightly enforced. Pickled cucumber, watermelon rind, garlic, bamboo shoots etc. They are usually eaten with congee in the morning or with rice at dinner.

At my grandmothers place, the typical meal would comprise of 2 courses, first, a variety of cold meats and pickled vegtables and nuts would be set out on the table with hot rice and people would nibble and talk while grandma cooked. Once dinner was ready, the cold food was taken off and the hot food put on. There wasn't any soup course but occasionally, soup would be on the table.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 2 weeks later...
What are the flavorings "typical" of Manchurian cookery? What type of cooking vessels were traditionally used? Prefered meats and vegetables? Are there any fermented sauces, bean pastes for instance? Is the food spicy? Pickled dishes? How is a Manchurian table set, everything served together? What are the components of a meal, rice, soup, pickle, protein dish?

Dongbei food is typically more "heavy" then other cuisines, in many ways. It is "heavier" with flavors and also with kinds of dishes, usually a lot of "casserole" type dishes with thick sauces. Typically, there will be noodles or mantou instead of rice at the meal. Obviously, the main cooking tool is a wok and there isn't anything that is used that is out of the ordinary with other parts of China. As was mentioned, there are typically a number of pickled dishes that are served. One of the most common "Dongbei foods" are of course jiao zi. While they are popular all over the country, Dongbei jiaozi are considered especially famous.

As for manchu foods, ugh, I'm really going to have to go back to the memory banks. Hehe, through all of my returns back to Shenyang to visit relatives and numerous tours of the Shenyang Gugong, I have a faint feeling in the back of my head about reading something about Manchu foods, but can't recall it now. I think its really hard to say because the Manchus of today are really no different from Chinese. Everyone knows the Man-Han Imperial cuisine, but I'm not sure how much is known (or if anyone cares) what a "common" Manchu would eat on an everyday basis.

Edited by chengb02 (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...
Pickled cabbage is a big one, nearly every home used to have a big clay cabbage fermenter although I've heard they've officially banned home production after a spate of food poisoning although it's not really tightly enforced. Pickled cucumber, watermelon rind, garlic, bamboo shoots etc. They are usually eaten with congee in the morning or with rice at dinner.

How is the pickled cabbage seasoned? What type of cabbage is used?

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Shredded cabbages are placed in brine, covered and then left for a few weeks. It uses the same chemical process as saurkraut. The brine is re-used getting more and more complex flavouring until you do something wrong and you get a mold infection. Then you have to toss it out and start again.

This is what was typically served when I went back home:

Breakfast:

Big steaming pots of congee with various picked vegtables(not cabbage) and fish floss.

Big bowls of soy milk

Hard boiled eggs with soy dipping sauce.

Lunch:

A cold vegtable salad

A cold meat salad

Maybe some left overs from the night before

Dinner:

Hot Rice

Various pickles, nuts etc to munch on.

A soup of some sort.

3 - 4 dishes

Some recipes:

Pickled cabbage soup

Make a soup base by stir frying some spring onions in oil until soft, then putting in 1 tbsp of dark soy and letting cook for 5 seconds, just until you can smell the sugars caremalising.

Top with boiling water

Add pickled cabbage and simmer for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, very thinly slice some pork and soak some vermicelli in warm water

Add the vermicelli and pork, turn off the heat and let the residual heat cook the pork.

Pork, beans & potato

Cut some nice fatty pork into 1 inch cubes and marinate in a mixture of cornflour, dark soy, salt & 5 spice powder.

Stir fry pork until brown and set aside.

saute some onions, ginger & garlic and then add beans and stir fry until the beans are green.

Add back the pork and deglaze with a very small water.

cook covered, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour, the important part is to make sure that the beans are steaming, not boiling.

Add some roughly chopped potatos in and cook until tender.

Add a cornflour slurry until the liquid is of sauce consistency, adjust seasoning.

Serve with rice.

"Hong Shao" fish

Descale, gut and clean a white fleshed fish like red snapper.

Make several slits into the fish and run over with a mixture of salt & 5 spice powder.

dredge both sides with flour.

Fry for about 3 mins on both sides in a large wok.

Add some ginger & spring onions and let them cook for a few seconds.

Add a mixture of chinese rice wine vinegar and sugar and put the lid on and let it steam until done.

I don't know how representative that is of Manchu cuisine but those are some of my families traditional recipes.

PS: I am a guy.

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but I'm not sure how much is known (or if anyone cares) what a "common" Manchu would eat on an everyday basis.

I'm interested in what a common Manchu would eat on an everyday basis. But then again I'm a nobody.

Hehe, sorry about that...Its just that, to my knowledge, scholarship on this subject is lacking at best. When the discussion turns to Manchus, the focus is typically on what the ruling class ate, as that became the Qing dynasty and the creation of Man/Han Imperial cuisine. Today's members of the Manchu minority are basically indistinguishable from Han Chinese, including in their eating habits, so this sort of study would be looking at history and almost nobody, even Manchus still read or speak Manchu, making scholarly studies of this even more difficult.

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  • 5 months later...

Thanks for the welcome. So, to start it off, i am going to have a slight introduction to my ethnic cuisine. Before we can taste the food, we must understand the origin...

There are many names to this wonderful and special cuisine that was created from the merger of two distinctively different cultures. You may heard it before or taste it before in some other names like "Peranakan Cuisine", "Straits Chinese Cuisine" or the most common "Nyonya Food / Cuisine".

Note: It is always called Nyonya food, never Baba food or Nyonya & Baba food because the tradtion is that ONLY the nyonya cooks. Never the Baba. So, its a special of the ladies of Peranakan. Not for the men. :)

The Fukinese / Hokkien people venture out during the late Tang dynasty to cultivate other lands and became traders. They usually ply the coast of China and what we known in modern day as Southern Vietnam, called Champa. From there, they venture into Siam and to the Malay Peninsula and Java.

When overseas trade was outlawed in the Later Ming and Qing dynasties, many of these traders settled permanently throughout SEA.

Peranakan is the term to describe to Chinese who settled in Southeast Asia. They married the local malays and adopted the way of livings of the locals.

The oldest settlement of Peranakan is from Melacca. If you visit Melacca today, you can still see a lot of the old Peranakan charm along the Jonker area. And also of course, in Penang.

So from Melacca, because of trade under East India Company, Peranakan community back then was a very strong trade community. Being a Peranakan usually equates to being rich and educated. Sir Francis Light started a new settlement in Penang while Sir Stamford Raffles started another in Singapore.

So, until today, when you say Peranakan, there will be only 3 types. Singaporean Peranakan, Penang Peranakan and Melaccan Peranakan. But, we are still known as Straits Chinese, irregardless of which community you originated from.

We speak a mixture of Malay and Hokkien. Which we called the "Baba Hokkien". Our attire and jewelry are greatly influenced by the Malays, but to not losing our chinese identity, we still maintain Chinse "Taoism" traditions and beliefs.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Pls have some feedback on how i should continue this... I hope i pique enough curiosity about my culture. :)

Edited by mflo (log)
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Welcome! Which Peranakan culture do you hail from - Malacca, Penang or Singapore?

I love Peranakan cuisine. I think it's rich, robust and complex. I also like the exacting emphasis on taste as well as texture.

You could talk more about the strict standards that the Peranakan matriarchs insist upon in their kitchens, eg. everything done by hand just so, the many hours of hand-stirring to make a pot of kaya (coconut egg jam), the hand-pounding of spices and nuts and herbs etc.

What are your favorite dishes?

I would also like to hear more about the customs and traditions. There is such a wealth of culture to be explored!

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hey thanks for the feedbacks.

Let's see...

I am well, a rojak nyonya. :) My grandmother is a Medanese Straits Chinese who speaks hokchu and married a melaccan baba who only speaks baba hokkien. My mother was only a half nyonya from her mother side. My dad, beside loving nyonya food, have no other peranakan identity left. :) too modernised..

My favourite Nyonya dish? Oh Wow... too many!!!

Penang laksa.

lor bak.

most types of nyonya kuihs (pastries and cakes), Sri Muka being my fav and onde-onde.

bubur cha cha

assam pedas

Sambal petai.

rempah hnh chee (fried fish stuffed with sambal paste)

ince kabin (nyonya fried chicken)

and many many more.....

i'll have a brief one on customs and traditions. lol. now you guys have set me thinking.

Yes. we do have strict standards when it comes to our cooking. That has not changed. I am particular about my nyonya food. That's why, it is very difficult to find very good nyonya restaurant. Most of the time they cannot match the standard of home cooked nyonya food.

We have a lot of "pantang" (rules and regulations, taboos) when cooking and even when not cooking.

So many things we cant do or say when you cook certain stuffs, if not, the food wont turn out right or like how during certain occassions we must have this or that to throw away bad luck or to invite good luck, how some food can only be eaten in certain occasion (like funeral) cannot be eaten any other time. And of course during major occassions like funeral and chinese new year, the order of the food that we eat, and what dish goes with what. Well, we are particular about that. (with my grandmother anyway... :))

as for subtle differences? hmmm....

as far as i am concern, most penang nyonya food are more sourish based. And they have a lot of "kerabu" styled dishes due to the influences of the Thais cause they are quite near to Thailand. Overall, in Penang nyonya dishes, you can see a lot of dishes that have that hint of Thai in them.

While for Melaccan nyonya food, we uses more spices, herbs, alot of pandan leaves and flowers like "bunga telang" in our cooking.

As for the Singaporeans, I can't really say, since I've only been here for two years and I have not really discover great nyonya food here yet. Probably because too busy working. But one thing I can say though, their style is more light, not so spicy and some of the ingredients are different. For instance, for the laksa, rather than uses "lye fun" they uses thick rice vermicelli instead. It just makes such a difference to the laksa. Not that nice in my opinion. Lye fun is smooth and chewy, while the thick vermicelli comes off grainy due to the rice starch. just not the same...

ok... beside the customs and traditions, i think a glossary of nyonya ingredients will be good before embarking on recipes and cooking. ya?

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mflo, how do your parents communicate? In Malay?

Bubur cacak is a favorite of mine from my days in a Malay village in Terengganu, where most every woman cooked it.

I'd love to hear more about Peranakan food-related pantang. You might want to post about those in either this thread or this one, with a link here. Parenthetically, my mother, an anthropologist, wrote about and did research on Terengganu Malay pantang, especially those related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the period 40 days and 40 nights after childbirth.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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What a great way to start my morning...and weekend...another food world to explore! Keep it coming, mflo. Pictures to titillate too please. :smile:

As we are nearing Moon Festifval, some traditional thoughts about festival foods would be greatly appreciated, along with recipes of course.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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For another aspect of the history of the Chinese traders in the Straits Region read the book "1421", by Gavin Menzies. Even if only 1/2 of what he says is true, it would still be an astounding story.

I have only experienced Malaysia and S'pore three times, and I must say that the lasting memory was mainly about the food (what were you thinking??). The techniques that I encountered were basically Chinese, but my, what interesting and amazing fusions and combinations they do with ingredients. *drool,* slobber* :wub:

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Alycemoy, dont worry, a good laksa recipe will come your way very soon. and i will describe in detail on the dos and dont of making a good penang laksa as well. it was those one dish that i can relish passing down my infos on cause i've been through trial and error with it. :)

pan: my mum passed away when i was real young, so i grew up with my grandmother. Our family (included extended) communicate in English and our patois, the "Baba Hokkien", which is a mixture of English, Malay and Hokkien mixed together. and Also some splatter of Hokchu, because thats my grandmother's mother tongue.

pan, i have to correct ur pronounciation on bubur chacha. When I first saw the post, for a moment i had no idea what it was. Cacak actually sounds like lizard. u had me scared for a moment... usually their either pronounced it Cha-cha or char-char. The chinese with their mangled malay will pronounced it "jaja" hehe...

Sometime, people ask me if i were ever tired of nyonya food. Actually, I dont. I am proud of my heritage and am never sick of eating them. Even after facing them over and over again.... but it is very fattening..... and high cholestrol....

I hope i can include pics as well. But as a chef, with busy working hours, i hardly went home to visit my hometown. So, i'll see what i can do...

I cant really descibe much about festivals, except we have several big ones like Chun Jik (Lunar New Year) & Chap Goh Meh (15th Night), Cheng Beng (prayers to ancestors), this which i hardly participate because I am a Roman Catholic, and I don't like all those prayers thingy, cause it is not about my religion. That is another subject all together, best left alone :). We also celebrate the Dumpling festival. I remember when I was young, I would relish helping my grandmother prepare the ingredients for the dumplings. She was very particular about the rice, I remember she will spread them out in these huge metal tray and make us (the grandchildren) pick the rice for her. You have to thoroughly seperate the glutinous rice from the normal rice and those that she considered "bad". If not, the end product of the dumpling will not achieve the "holding" quality that she wanted. Can understand so far?

Then, we also celebrate the Hungry Ghost month. With more food and prayers....

Mooncake festival / Lantern festival. With more food and prayers and mooncake. When I was young, my grandmother will only buy mooncake from this lady that lives about 3 street away from us. She makes these fantastic tau sar & lotus paste mixed baked mooncake with a very fragrant crust. Half the time, i'll just eat the crust and throw away the filling :) Seriously, nobody makes it like her anymore.

After the mooncake festival, another big occasion in our family will be the Giu Ong Ya ( Nine Emperor) Birthday. I dunno why they called it Nine Emperor, but it is to actually celebrate the birth of the Jade Emperor.

Then there is one of my favourite, the Winder festival, or we called it the "Tang jek". Because this is the time i get to eat homemade glutinous rice ball!!!!! yummy... I eat tons of these. Just simply love them. The plain rice balls without any filling and served in a pandan and ginger flavoured gula melaka syrup....

:)~~~~

Then, there will be of course, Nyonya weddings and funerals.....

Hmm, we ALWAYS serve meatball porridge made from pork during the wake.

and during mourning, we can only wear white, dark blue or black. and our typical colourful bowls and stuffs, we change them all to this plain dark blue and white instead...

Ok, i'll stop here first. cant think of anything else. good night :)

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[...]pan, i have to correct ur pronounciation on bubur chacha. When I first saw the post, for a moment i had no idea what it was. Cacak actually sounds like lizard.[...]

That's cicak (gecko). I've seen it written as "cacak" on menus sometimes. Besides, my pronunciation is Terengganu-style, though I have to say that I can't remember people distinguishing between different kinds of bubur there. Most every time I had bubur there, it was what others call "cacak," "caca," whatever. :biggrin: (Hmmm...If the real spelling is "cacar" that would end up being "chachaa" or "chaCHO" in Terengganu/Kelantan Malay. I'll have to tell you sometime about my pronunciation of "lokan.")

We also celebrate the Dumpling festival. I remember when I was young, I would relish helping my grandmother prepare the ingredients for the dumplings. She was very particular about the rice, I remember she will spread them out in these huge metal tray and make us (the grandchildren) pick the rice for her. You have to thoroughly seperate the glutinous rice from the normal rice and those that she considered "bad". If not, the end product of the dumpling will not achieve the "holding" quality that she wanted. Can understand so far?

Yeah, but feel free to elaborate when you have time.

After the mooncake festival, another big occasion in our family will be the Giu Ong Ya ( Nine Emperor) Birthday. I dunno why they called it Nine Emperor, but it is to actually celebrate the birth of the Jade Emperor.

Then there is one of my favourite, the Winder festival, or we called it the  "Tang jek". Because this is the time i get to eat homemade glutinous rice ball!!!!! yummy... I eat tons of these. Just simply love them. The plain rice balls without any filling and served in a pandan and ginger flavoured gula melaka syrup....

:)~~~~

I love gula melaka! One dessert I really enjoyed during my last trip to Malaysia was Sago Gula Melaka. I don't think I ever had a chance to have it when I was living in Malaysia in the mid 70s, because they didn't make it in the coffee house that had a block of ice in the bin in the village(no 24-hour electricity, so no refrigeration in those days) and I didn't come across such a dessert during my time in KL or other places.

One question: You mentioned that you are a busy chef and don't get to go back to your home town much. What town did you grow up in?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 1 month later...
Very wow. Thanks for the post Toby. And best of all, being a 2.5 generation descendant from a small village outside Toi San (keywords: VERY SMALL VILLAGE), I can affirm what Toby's posted as being the truth with good translations too :)...

My friend visited Toisan this summer. It ain't no small village anymore! They have two highways now - one east/west and one north/south.

Wah, so fancy-lah! :laugh:

A fellow village-ite.

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My friend visited Toisan this summer.  It ain't no small village anymore!  They have two highways now - one east/west and one north/south.

Wah, so fancy-lah!  :laugh:

Times do change. It wasn't that long ago that my parents visited a "well-to-do" cousin who had not one, but TWO bicycles!

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  • 1 year later...

Ok I was about to create a thread on the Manchu cuisine and home style cooking but found this instead woohoo!

It looks like this thread kind of died...

Anyway, there may be a reason as to why there is not much mention or knowledge in this particular cuisine. It's said that quite alot of the North-eastern Chinese regional dishes are in fact of Manchu origin. I'm not sure how reliable this piece of information is, but if it's true, that could explain why nobody really talks of Manchu food -it's pretty much integrated into the local cuisine and is no longer differentiated?

Btw, I also found this in wiki ( :rolleyes: )

Another distinct feature that separates Manchurian cuisine from other Chinese cuisines is to serve fresh raw vegetables and raw seafood in coastal areas.

It'd be awesome if there were some Manchu recipes (in English)!

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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HEY! Remember this?! http://xyscyxs.mofcom.gov.cn/upload/proimage/2606.jpg

I'm sure everyone (every Chinese that is) has had this before -my whole life I never knew it's name and just found out it's called Sachima.

Well, apparently it's a Manchu sweet snack! Aha! And I've been eating this for ages (since I was a child) -very interesting to finally discover it's origins :wink:

The name 'sachima' is also in the Manchurian language -which doesn't surprise me because it definately doesn't sound very Chinese (mainstream Han Chinese anyway).

Btw, something else interesting I found (not exactly Manchu but could possibly be related):

Liaoning Cuisine, developed on the basis of Shandong Cuisine, is well known for its unique style. It integrates the quintessence of imperial dishes that spread far and wide among folks and rare dishes of various ethnic groups in China. Thanks to meticulously selected materials and highly skilled preparations, Liaoning Cuisine is well known for its unique colors, aromas and tastes and is spoken highly by Chinese and foreign gourmets.
Edited by Ce'nedra (log)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Is Manchurian cuisine very close to modern day Korean food?

When we toured Beijing a few years ago, we were treated with a "so-called" Imperial feast (touristy thing), which was supposed to be based on the imperial dishes in the Ching dynasty. It was my impression that the setting and the food were very close to Korean banchans - many small dishes, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Chinese food must be among the most famous in the world. Yet, at the same time, the most misunderstood.

      I feel sure (hope) that most people here know that American-Chinese cuisine, British-Chinese cuisine, Indian-Chinese cuisine etc are, in huge ways, very different from Chinese-Chinese cuisine and each other. That's not what I want to discuss.

      Yet, every day I still come across utter nonsense on YouTube videos and Facebook about the "real" Chinese cuisine, even from ethnically Chinese people (who have often never been in China). Sorry YouTube "influencers", but sprinkling soy sauce or 5-spice powder on your cornflakes does not make them Chinese!
       
      So what is the "authentic" Chinese food? Well, like any question about China, there are several answers. It is not surprising that a country larger than western Europe should have more than one typical culinary style. Then, we must distinguish between what you may be served in a large hotel dining room, a small local restaurant, a street market stall or in a Chinese family's home.

      That said, in this topic, I want to attempt to debunk some of the more prevalent myths. Not trying to start World War III.

      When I moved to China from the UK 25 years ago, I had my preconceptions. They were all wrong. Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was reported to be the second favourite dish in Britain, and had, of course, to be preceded by a plate of prawn/shrimp crackers. All washed down with a lager or three.

      Yet, in that quarter of a century, I've seldom seen a prawn cracker. And egg fried rice is usually eaten as a quick dish on its own, not usually as an accompaniment to main courses. Every menu featured a starter of prawn/shrimp toast which I have never seen in mainland China - just once in Hong Kong.

      But first, one myth needs to be dispelled. The starving Chinese! When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up. My suggestion that we could post it to them never went down too well. At that time (the late fifties) there was indeed a terrible famine in China (almost entirely manmade (Maomade)).

      When I first arrived in China, it was after having lived in Soviet Russia and I expected to see the same long lines of people queuing up to buy nothing very much in particular. Instead, on my first visit to a market (in Hunan Province), I was confronted with a wider range of vegetables, seafood, meat and assorted unidentified frying objects than I have ever seen anywhere else. And it was so cheap I couldn't convert to UK pounds or any other useful currency.
       
      I'm going to start with some of the simpler issues - later it may get ugly!

      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.
       

       
      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
       
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
       
       
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