Technically, this episode only covers 2 types of food: those made from rice, and those made from wheat.
It might be an over-generalisation, but it’s still largely true that people in northern China eat wheat-based food as staple, while people in the south eat rice-based food.
Ding Village, Shanxi Province
The history of processing grains dates back tens of thousands of years. The oldest stone mill was unearthed nearby. The same kind of mill that is still in use today.
Everything that’s made from dough is called mian.
Different types of mian:
Guess how tall the steamer is?
Longevity peach bun
These are not real flowers. They are flower buns.
Longevity noodles are eaten on birthdays.
Before the guests start eating, they will pick out the longest noodle in their bowl, and add it to the bowl of the person celebrating his birthday. This way, he can live a long and happy life.
Suide County, Shaanxi Province
Huang Guosheng is 58 years old.
He sells his broomcorn millet buns in the market in town for one yuan each.
Millet has been cultivated along the Yellow River for over 8,000 years.
Kuche County, Xinjiang Province
A piece of naan is bigger than the baby’s face.
It’s great for sharing.
Xi’an, Shaanxi Province
Roujiamo (Meat sandwich)
It’s made with bowl-shaped flatbread
With pork filling, stewed for hours in a soup containing more than 30 spices and seasonings.
Paomo (lamb broth with croutons)
Croutons are made from flatbread.
Lanzhou City, Gansu Province
Lanzhou beef noodle soup
There’re more than 1,000 halal noodle restaurants in Lanzhou alone. More than a million bowls of noodle soup are consumed. In a day.
Noodles are stretched into long, thin strands.
Look at how thin the noodle is.
Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province
Duck eggs are used in kneading the dough.
A big, thick bamboo log is used to press the dough.
On the other end of the bamboo is the chef.
This is how the famous Jook-sing noodles are made.
The dough can also be made into wantons.
Qishan County, Shaanxi Province
Noodles with minced pork are also eaten on birthdays.
Minced pork is stir-fried first. Then vinegar and chilli powder are added.
The best spicy and sour minced pork broth contains five colours.
Black and white are represented by wood ear and tofu.
Green: garlic sprouts.
(Not everyone can make it into a perfect crescent shape. I remember there used to be this doohickey you can use to cheat.)
Five grains of ancient China: rice, broomcorn, foxtail millet, wheat, and hemp.
Today the top three most cultivated grains in China are: rice, wheat, and corn.
But the most important grain remains the same—rice.
Paddies have been cultivated in China for more than 7,000 years.
Liping County, Guizhou Province
The oldest granary here was built more than 300 years ago.
Rice vermicelli in spicy meat soup
A thin sheet of rice flour
Don’t they look like blankets?
Steamed rice roll
Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
Ho fun (wide rice noodles)
Stir-fried ho fun
Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province
Zongzi (glutinous rice with meat fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves) is not just eaten on festive occasions.
Jingtou Village, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province
kneading rice flour
Making niangao (Chinese New Year’s cake)
Niangao can be boiled to make soup with vegetables.
Or stir-fried with crabmeat.
Recap: steamed buns, millet buns, naan, meat sandwich, lamb stew with croutons, beef noodle soup, Jook-sing noodles, wontons, noodles with minced pork, dumplings, ho fun, and rice cake.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what food is on the table.
All that matters is that on the eve of Chinese New Year, the people sharing food with you are family.
(CNY is just two months away, yay!)