Good food is an essential component of any vacation. China offers something for anyone, even the most finicky eaters. The country’s culinary tradition is as diverse as the rich array of ethnic groups that make up the country’s heritage. Visitors are sure to encounter a staggering amount of dishes delectably prepared to rock their taste buds. Here is just a small sampling of the culinary wonders available in China:
Peking duck is perhaps China’s most popular dish. According to history, it was reserved only for royalty within Beijing’s Forbidden City until a chef who formerly served the emperor gave the recipe away to the masses. Now all travelers can savor the juicy and flavorsome meat, even though the price tag remains relatively high.
China’s Donghuamen Night Market near Wangfujing is home to some strange food. Who wouldn’t want a bite of sheep-innards broth or barbeque scorpions? The affordability of the market allows visitors to sample much without putting a dent in their wallet.
Southwest of Beijing lie Sichuan and Chongqing provinces. There chilies and China’s signature Sichuan pepper add a zing to local dishes, the most popular being hotpot, a boiling broth containing raw ingredients. Just east of Beijing lies Hunan, birthplace of famed emperor Mao Zedong. Visitors delight in tasting the famous ruler’s favorite dish, hongshao rou, or braised pork belly. The name says it all: pork belly marinated in sugar and slow cooked to perfection. Fattier than typical western food, hongshao rou is still a must for many travelers.
South of Beijing is Guangxi province. Perhaps one of China’s most scenic destinations, the beauty of its limestone peaks holds many in awe. But we must not forget the province’s delectable dog hotpot and beerfish, found in many local restaurants of the province.
China’s northern province is often mocked for its refined culinary tastes. Take a trip to inner Mongolia or the northwestern province of Xinjiang to experience high quality lamb dishes. Despite the fact that the region is often mocked, Chinese natives obviously have a desire for lamb kabobs, sold amply in almost every street market in China. Xinjiang is highly influenced by Muslim culture; located nearby is Harbin, mainly Russian influenced. Visitors and natives alike cherish the country’s unique amalgamation of world cultures that are available in such close proximity. Harbin especially is imbued with a sort of magic and is home to the yearly Ice Lantern Festival. Every January slow cooked stews appear while the mainstay quick-fried spice dishes take a temporary leave. Imported vodka is made available, a perfect complement to some caviar. Truly, the magic of China is witnessed in Harbin and also beyond. All one has to do is sample the nation’s food.