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Cycle of giving and eating
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  • http://english.dbw.cn銆€銆€ 2013-08-12 08:59:24
     

    Beijing's candied haw or bingtang hulu (Photo source: Frank / for China Daily)

    For the Chinese, nothing is more meaningful than food as a gift. When friends and relatives visit from a different city, or when colleagues return from a business trip somewhere afar, more often than not they will be carrying back local specialties. Edible ones.

    These may range from naturally air-dried yak meat from Tibet or Inner Mongolia autonomous region, to freshly steamed Cantonese water-chestnut cake or packs of pickled vegetables from Tianjin.

    What these gifts represent is more than a bite of fun, but also an intimate greeting from a different culinary way of life. That's how China's varied regional cultures meet and meld.

    In my hometown Yangzhou, we also have a tradition when we visit those who are older, to show respect. We bring something called zaocha, which literally means "morning tea" - usually several bags of pastries such as walnut cakes and sesame pancakes.

    Every region has a different eating culture, and the variations form a very wide spectrum.

    In Beijing, roast duck is always the first choice as a souvenir. Since the freshly roasted birds are not easy to bring around, enterprising restaurateurs prepare vacuum-packed birds that are prettily packaged.

    They may not taste as good as the birds carved at the table, but, nonetheless, their popularity is testament in the long line of tourists in front of Quanjude's take-away window at Qianmen. After all, most tourists want a bird from Beijing's most well-known duck restaurant.

    In times past, when the duck was way beyond most tourist budgets, another more affordable Beijing specialty was brought home. Then as now, candied fruits, usually a colorful mixture of apple, peach and apricot packed into a little bamboo crate, make a convenient take-home gift.

    There are also candied haw fruits, the famous bingtang hulu, and the notorious ludagun, "donkey rolling in the dust", a sticky yellow glutinous rice cake stuffed with sweet bean paste and rolled in yellow bean flour.

    In Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, most visitors take home a different kind of gift - freshwater produce. The best known is an expensive and much sought-after seasonal treat, mitten or hairy crabs freshly caught from Suzhou's Yangcheng Lake and in peak season around the Mid-Autumn Festival in September.

     

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    Author锛? 銆€銆€銆€Source锛? xinhua 銆€銆€銆€ Editor锛? Yang Fan

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