Beijing, China

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Meat.

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Bread.

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驴肉火烧 donkey burger

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Baiyang Lake, Baoding, Hebei Province, China

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卤水 (“master stock”) refers to a type of soup with salt and spices.

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Donkey meat is boiled in master stock to get rid of its gamey smell.

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After 8 hours of boiling, the aromas of the spices have saturated the meat.

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火烧, a type of baked wheaten cake, is often eaten together with donkey meat.

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Leaves, roots, seeds . . . anything can be used as spices.

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One of the most important spices comes from Guangxi Province.

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Star anise.

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They grow on trees about 15-20 metres tall.

Local residents climb up tall and thin trees to harvest star anise.

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About 40,000 tonnes of star anise are produced every year worldwide. More than 70% come from Guangxi.

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Star anise is harvested in September and October, and must be processed immediately.

Star anise is boiled in water first.

Then sun dried.

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Star anise contains a chemical called anethole, which makes it 13 times sweeter than sugar.

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The Chinese name of star anise is 八角, which means “eight-pointed star”.

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Star anise can be used on its own, or be processed as part of Five-spice Powder (star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorn, and fennel seeds).

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Chaozhou, Guangdong Province, China

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Meat (duck, chicken, goose; wings, feet, entrails) boiled in master stock.

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卤味 lou mei

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Wuzhi Village, Raoping, Guangdong Province, China

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Some villagers are busy picking tea leaves.

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While others do a spring cleaning in preparation for the Chinese New Year.

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A lot of spices used in Chinese cooking can be bought from the pharmacy. (For example, star anise can be used to treat flu.)

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The spices are ground into powder.

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Galangal is essential in making lou mei sauce in the Southern style.

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Add soy sauce and fish sauce.

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Soup stock made with dried scallop and pork bones, as well as fried spices.

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Add in an entire goose and more galangal.

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卤鹅 goose in lou mei sauce

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Tianmen, Tongling, Anhui Province, China

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In October, crabs living in the Wan River are at their fattest.

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Steamed crabs are eaten with diced ginger and vinegar.

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清蒸蟹 steamed crab

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There are at least 14 different varieties of ginger.

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Ginger farmers gather in a farmhouse to sell their harvest.

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Ginger is grown in ditches like this.

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Sprouted gingers are buried in the soil in spring.

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In autumn, the ginger field looks like this.

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This type of ginger is called 白姜, “white ginger”.

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More than 90% of the ginger is water.

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It’s first marinated in salt.

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Sun dried.

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Then marinated with soy sauce and broad bean paste.

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酱姜 ginger in soy sauce

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Or you can add sugar and white vinegar.

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糖醋姜 sweet and sour ginger

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Having spices in your food is important, because otherwise, no one (human and animal alike) wants to eat it.

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About fmiswriting

One out of 1.4 billion voices.

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