2019-06-17 12:02:01 source: 《文化交流》；叶晨
Tasty Charms of Zhejiang
A legendary part of Jiangnan Zhejiang loves cooking and eating. A New Account of the Tales of the World, a book written by Liu Yiqing (403-444), traces this passion for finest taste to Jiangnan more than 16 centuries ago. One anecdote recorded in the book relates a brief conversation between Prince Wang Ji and Lu Ji, a court official who came from Jiangnan, which is a historical and geographic name for the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. A celebrated gourmet in the capital, the prince boastingly and arrogantly asked Lu Ji, “What do you have in Jiangnan that can be as good as sheep cheese here?” “The water shield soup,” replied calmly and simply Lu Ji without hesitation. Lu was cultured and refined enough to know the regional flavors in Jiangnan were much better. The culinary style in Jiangnan emphasizes light flavors from fresh and seasonal ingredients, much different from the heavily seasoned flavors in the north.
In 2018, the cultural and tourism authorities in Zhejiang launched a province-wide program to find the top ten dishes of each of 89 counties, county-level districts and cities in the province. The selection amounted to just a little south of 1,000 dishes in the province. Among this wide range of local dishes, many are available only in springtime.
Fuyang, which used to be a county in Hangzhou and now a district of the city, boasts a dish of fish from Fuchun River, which traverses the picturesque county. The mandarin fish is the main ingredient of the dish, accompanied by crabs, shrimps, clams, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and some herbals. In the past, only the wealthy people along the river could afford to give such a treat to guests. Nowadays, modified by chefs, the dish is available at a reasonable price and most people can enjoy it. The best place to sample the dish is Dragon Gate Town and the Safari Park in Fuyang.
Shanxi River Goose
This famous dish is a representative of the local cuisine of Fenghua, a county-level city in Ningbo in the east of the province where an ancient route of poetry of the Tang exists in Chinese classics. In the Tang Dynasty, the picturesque beauty of the eastern Zhejiang attracted poets all over the country. Shanxi River was part of the pilgrimage all the way to Mount Tiantai. Local people never hesitate to point out to visitors that the great local cuisine goes nicely with the great beauty of the poetry path. Cooked in broth and served with fresh seasonal vegetables, the tasty goose can be an unforgettable gourmet experience at Xikou or Xuedou Mountain, two of the best known tourist destinations in Fenghua, which attracts more than 6 million tourists a year.
Embroidered Brocade with Bamboo Shoots
The embroidered brocade in the name of this delicious dish has nothing to do with any fabric or embroidery. It is a local name for a kind of cabbage in Nanxun, a canal town in Huzhou in the north of Zhejiang. The cabbage cultivated around in Nanxun is very special. Gourmets agree that the taste isn’t authentic if the cabbage comes from anywhere else five miles away from the town. This special dish helps explain why local flavors across Zhejiang are often unique. The same food ingredients may taste different five or ten miles away. It goes without saying that Nanxun is the only place where this dish is available. Chefs anywhere else have long since stopped trying to imitate.
The herb in this dish is the Common Pratia. Local people in Wencheng, a county in Wenzhou, steep it in hot water and drink as tea. And they make it a key ingredient in scrambled eggs. The spring is the best time for the herb eggs in Wencheng. And the best location for this local delicacy is at Baizhangji, China’s tallest waterfall in a string of local tourism destinations.
Clean-Water Grass Carp
Local people in Quzhou in the mountainous southwest of Zhejiang have been raising grass carp in spring-water ponds for more than 600 years. Situated at a high altitude, these ponds are home to grass carp that feeds on grass thrown in by pond owners and grows very slowly. It usually takes a grass carp to grow in three or four years before it is big enough for dinner table. The grass carp from such a pond does issue any muddy odor and the fish meat is tender. If it is cooked in a rural kitchen with firewood, it tastes best. Restaurants at Taihui Mountain and the National Forest Park at the Headwaters of Qiantang River are most recommended.
Mussel with Green Pepper
Zhoushan Archipelago in eastern Zhejiang begins to see mussels harvested from the sea in late March every year, but the best-quality mussels are available in mid April. There are many ways to cook mussels. The best place for having a mussel feast is usually at an islander’s home on a small island. It can be steeped in wine or it can be cooked with green pepper. It can depend upon the cook hired at a village inn. Never underestimate what these local cooks can do with mussels. Restaurants at Flower Birds Isle and Dongji Isle are recommended.
The delicacy resembles the spring roll in almost all aspects, but the size is bigger and the stuffing is much more. It is usually available in the spring. In the past there were not so many ingredients rolled in. Now, as the market works pretty well and local economy has been thriving for decades, many delicious ingredients get into the stuffing such as sliced eels, cuttlefish and mussels in addition to sliced pork, mung been sprout, tarragon, tofu, egg, chives, broad bean. If you are visiting Mountain Tiantai, try the dumpling roll there so that you don’t need to go out of your way to find the delicacy.
Qingyuan in the south of Zhejiang is best known as a county of mountains where mushroom is a major pillar of the local economy. The local people offer a dish of fresh mushroom which they proudly call Fresh Mushroom Masterpiece. It presents a minimalist style: cooked with broth and topped with several drops of soy sauce. Though Qingyuan and neighboring counties are all good at providing tourists with this dish, the best place for a tourist to enjoy this local delicacy is Baishanzu Mountain, literally the ancestor of 100 mountains, which is the second tallest peak of Zhejiang.
Unlike some other places across the province, Youbu, a town whose history goes back to many hundreds of years ago, boasts an early morning breakfast tradition. Some teahouses in the town open up at four o’clock in the morning. The biggest crowd for a cup of tea and breakfast appears at about 6 o’clock. The 5-meter wide Liberation Street in downtown is nicknamed Morning Tea Street.
It is absolutely the favorite of most early risers in the town. The pancake is their favorite. The ingredients including minced lean pork, tofu, green onion, lard and egg are not what make the cake special. It is the way the egg goes into the cake. While the cake is on the pan, the cook uses a chopstick to open a tiny hole on the cake and pour the whipped egg into the cake. This may look time-consuming and not particularly efficient, but the recipe comes from a time when no one was in a hurry to go anywhere. The traditionalists in town still enjoy the pancake made this way. Tourists love it too. The best place to get a bite of the pancake is Youbu Town and Zhuge Eight-Diagram Village about 15 kilometers away from Youbu.
(Executive Editor: Xinyu Xie)