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The Fashion Of Food Is A Way Of Life In China’s Hangzhou

May 19, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The best fashion is in Europe and the best living is in America, but the best eating can only be found in China. The famous Chinese proverb is ringing true in the lake-side city of Hangzhou, where traditional cuisine, foodie tours and the country’s largest food museum are reigniting interest in China’s culinary heritage.

Described by Marco Polo as “the most beautiful and splendid city in the world” for its ancient temples and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed West Lake, Hangzhou has some of the most adventurous food in the world. Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo – of Dungopo Pork fame – wrote that the best banquets in the world are made up of Hangzhou “cai”, or Hangzhou food, known for its freshness and blend of sweet and spicy.

Hangzhou’s love of all things food and culinary heritage is best seen in the Hangzhou Cuisine Museum, the biggest of a growing number of food museums in China. The Chinese have always loved food, but the banquet setting pictured above isn’t edible – it’s an accurate replication constructed from plastic that recreates the most famous meal in Chinese history – the Man-Han banquet of the Qing Dynasty court; the pinnacle of culinary skills unnamed (3)of the Han and Manchu Chinese.
 
Below are the best ways to savor the tastes of China’s most traditional fare in Hangzhou:
 
Traditional Hangzhou Cuisine
 
Dongpo Pork:
 
Such was Su Dongpo’s affinity for the regional cuisine that the locals took to calling one of their most famous pork dishes after him. According to legend, after helping the neighboring city of Suzhou recover from a devastating flood, the citizens sent Dongpo an abundance of pork. He then cooked the meat in his own “special style” and it came to be known as Dongpo pork. Today, the dish—fatty cubes of pork braised in a dark, sweet sauce—defines Hangzhou cuisine.
 
Beggar’s Chicken:
 
As the story goes, this dish takes its name from a pauper who caught a chicken, but had no pot in which to cook it. He wrapped the chicken with lotus leaves and baked it in clay, producing meat so tender that word of the unique method spread even to the Emperor.
 
West Lake Vinegar Fish:
It is said that West Lake Vinegar Fish, noted for its succulence and sweet-and-sour flavoring, was created by a woman who presented it to her fleeing brother-in-law. “This fish is sweet and sour,” she told him, “just as life is sweet and sour. When you have achieved the sweetness of a good life, remember the sour oppression of others’.” Prepared with fresh grass carp from the West Lake, the tender fish is coated in a thick, black paste of vinegar and sugar, which produces a crab-like taste.
 
Hangzhou Restaurant News
 
Hubin 28 Road Restaurant:
Hangzhou’s HuBin 28 Road Restaurant at Hyatt Regency Hangzhou Hotel was ranked 33rd in the Restaurant Magazine’s list of “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants,” – the only restaurant in mainland China to make the list.
 
Lou Wai Lou Restaurant:
Lou Wai Lou is perhaps Hangzhou’s most historic and famous restaurant. Opened in 1848, it is lauded for its authentic Hangzhou cuisine and its inspiring view of the West Lake.
 
Wai Po Jia (Grandma’s Kitchen):
For visitors seeking a more budget-friendly eating experience, Wai Po Jia (Grandma’s Kitchen) is held in high esteem by the Chinese for its high quality of service, reasonable prices and many locations throughout Hangzhou. Be warned, though, the long wait lines have become as legendary as the cuisine.
 
Food Tours
 
Full day Dumpling Making Tour in Hangzhou:
 
Visitors can become an apprentice for the day and cook traditional Chinese dumplings.  The Hangzhou Cooking School, certified by the Hangzhou Government, has a master dumpling program for those who want to impress their friends with homemade masterpieces.  Apprentices will meet the chef, learn the 1,800 year history of dumplings, then start cooking, stuffing and wrapping.  At the end of the class, guests will get to savor their workmanship.
 
Tai Chi and Traditional Cooking:
 
This tour includes a fully immersed Tai Chi program with cooking and culture classes interspersed.  Visitors can grasp the light, refined Hangzhounese cuisine by learning to make West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Dongpo Pork, Beggar’s Chicken and Fried Shrimps with Long Jing Tea Leaves. 
 
Seven Cups Tea Tours:
 
Tea experts at Seven Cups escort tea-connoisseurs across Eastern China.  For two days, tours stop in Hangzhou, the Tea Capital of China.  Visitors will walk through the Emperor’s Tea Garden, visit the Hangzhou Tea Museum and meet the oldest and most decorated tea master in order to learn about the traditional skills involved in hand-crafting West Lake’s most famous green tea, Dragon Well.

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