19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

Chapter 1 What to eat : Food in Guilin

Cuisine in Guilin is immeasurably influenced by cooking styles of its neighboring provinces , Hunan and Guangdong , and features by a blended style , sour and spicy – tastes of Hunan food , and light and mild – flavors of Guangdong dishes . The increasing popularity of Sichuan cuisine in recent years witnessed a further impact on the regions cooking style . Nevertheless , it is Hunan’s sour and spicy style that affected Guilin’s traditional home-made dishes more , which has become so readily embraced in Guilin that locals say they cannot do without Hunan-styled dishes . Speaking of top Guilin-styled food , widely-known mentions include , though not limited to , Guilin rice noodles , Guilin three treasures ( chili sauce , Sanhua liquor , and fermented tofu ) , braised pork with Lipu taro , oil tea , and Yangshuo beer fish ( fish cooked with beer )1 . You ChaYou Cha , literally means ” oil tea ” . It is a tea soup made out of fried and pounded tea leaves in oil , is a home-made food base or food itself , and a preferred gift packed for visiting guests and tourists alike . Initially a traditional habit held among the Yao and Dong minorities in northern Guangxi , oil tea is now popular among all locals , young and old , male and female . At present , Gongcheng oil tea , introduced with a formula from Gongcheng county , one of Guilin’s 12 counties , is extremely known . Bitter and slightly spicy , this branded oil tea is usually served with snacks such as peanuts , rice crackers , cakes , etc . With more tourists swarming into Guilin every year , Gongcheng oil tea becomes increasingly famous in Guilin and beyond.One basic feature about this unique oil tea is that it is mainly made of pig . bone soup boiled with crushed black tea leaves , fried ginger , scallion , garlic , and salt . Fried peanuts and chopped green onions are also added when the tea is read for use . For the Yao people in Gongcheng , they may also serve the tea with various other snacks such as crispy soybeans , popcorn , and glutinous rice cakes.Yao people are very hospitable . When receiving visitors , the host usually treat them to oil tea with snacks , and one or two songs . To extend respect to the host guests often drink up two bowls of oil tea , symbolizing double happiness shared by both the guest and the host . After the tea , guests usually hand back both the bowl and chopsticks to the host , because if he only gives the bowl back and keeps the chopsticks , it means that he asks for more , and the host will happily scoop him the third bowl . Another cultural tip : Hospitable as the Yao people are , hosts seldom pass chopsticks to guests directly , when serving the first and second bowl of tea instead they put some crispy fried rice and peanuts in it first . Bowls usually contain some leftovers at the bottom , when the tea is taken . Then hosts will readily serve the third bowl of tea with chopsticks to finish up the leftovers . Normally , all visitors would please the hosts by asking for the third bowl . As a saying goes , ” Yao people’s hospitality is expressed through no less than three bowls of oil tea ” . Remember that oil tea is served all year round and visitors may taste it whenever they come to Guilin.Oil tea is available for breakfast and lunch , but rarely for dinner , though there appears a change nowadays . Local people reserve oil tea for midnight and as a midnight snack . Such knowledge helps you understand the practice , when you are in Guilin , so that you are likely to join the locals for a bowl of the tasty and affordable tea.Another feature . Guilin locals believe that oil tea has many medical functions , such as , improving digestion , keeping out colds and stimulating the mind . If you feel stuffed with food , you can try a bowl of oil tea , for its digestive effect . The medical function of oil tea explains why local people in Guilin use it so often ! And the tea medicine has no side effects!Tourists may be further curious about why Gongcheng oil tea enjoys more popularity . Well , the mountainous county grows more tea than other crops And oil tea is a staple food , especially for the Yao residents . When relatives and friends come , hosts usually prepare fried peanuts , boiled sweet potatoes , and taro to go with oil tea . As time goes by , this eating habit has been handed down as a special tea ceremony held by the Yao peopleIn 2008 , Gongcheng oil tea was listed as a nonmaterial cultural heritage of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region . It is envied by other competitive branded oil tea varieties in the region , such as Pingle oil tea , Guanyang oil tea , Quanzhou oil tea , Ziyuan oil tea , and Longsheng oil tea , which are almost known and which are made in different styles . For example , glutinous rice cakes are added into the oil tea in Longsheng , sour peppers are put into it in Guanyang , and in Quanzhou it is served with sour or pickled ginger . No matter where it is served , oil tea wins its customers and pleases visitors from far and wide.According to historical records , Gongcheng used to be called ” Chacheng ” which means ” the town of tea , and the river there was called ” Chajiang ” , meaning ” the river of tea ” . Afterwards , the citys name was changed into ” Gongcheng ” while the river’s name remained the same . It can be said that the oil tea in Gongcheng is , above any place else , the brand name of Gongcheng food.For so many said reasons , it is not surprising to see why Gongcheng oil tea is so vastly known , and why it is served in cities other than Guilin . For example more and more oil tea restaurants are opening up in Nanning , Shanghai , Beijing and Shenzhen , where steady groups of guests appear . Especially in Nanning , natives from Gongcheng and Guilin have started their business , making oil tea business flourishing and Gongcheng oil tea more and more popular with each passing day.Come and try oil tea in Guilin ! It is healthy , tasty , and affordable.

Leave a comment