Just like in every culture food isn’t only for feeding ourselves but eating also has a social aspect. Today’s article will bring you to Chengdu, China. The home of the Giant panda, the capital city of Sichuan but also a heaven for foodies.
Chengdu Food Tours
After living in Chengdu for a while I realized I didn’t know a lot about the food. I was always eating the same dishes. The dishes I felt comfortable with ordering. Time to get out of my comfort zone! I looked around a bit and finally Chengdu Food Tours drew my attention.
Obviously, Chengdu Food Tours organizes food tours. It’s as well an online platform for courageous foodies and cultural interaction. CFT is about interacting, learning (for sure also teaching) and exploring. The platform includes different kinds of food tours, workshops, ‘the Sichuan food blog’, and more. Jordan, the author, sees food as the cultural vehicle when diving into a culture.
‘Once you have good food, you’re halfway there’, he says. The first thing Jordan taught me was that the more you know about Sichuanese food, the more you know you don’t know.
When I interviewed Jordan I was obviously not only curious about his business in China but also about his personal experience as a foreigner moving to China. Just like many other foreigners that are established in China, Jordan sets his first steps into China as a student.
His passion for the Chinese culture, his curiosity, and his international relations led him to the idea/opportunity of Chengdu Food Tours. Food became a big focus, not only because he is fascinated by the flavors and diversity but also as a tool to indulge in the particular culture. Getting to know the food is getting to know the culture. He uses Chengdu Food Tours to share his experience with other travelers.
Chinese Food Culture & Typical Sichuanese dishes
In the Chinese culture, food has many symbolic meanings. I’ll give you a very clear example: during the Mid-Autumn festival (also known as Mooncake festival), people will eat mooncakes. At weddings, people will serve seeds, as symbols of bearing many children. I tell you, there are too many dishes have a symbolic meaning to sum up in this article.
Every region in China has its own specialty. Food in China is very regional and seasonal. If you want to be able to experience Sichuan optimally, you also have to appreciate the local food. Sichuan province is the province that’s known for its spiciness. By the way, did I mention that Chengdu is a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy? Here are some pics of typical Sichuanese dishes.
Chicken feet 凤爪 – Cold noodles 凉面
Chinese dumpling 饺子 – Eggplant 鱼香茄子, Pork Belly 红烧肉 and eggs & tomato 番茄炒鸡蛋
Rabbit head?! For foreigners in China, it’s always a big step to eat this delicates. It’s also standard to eat all kinds of organs, brain, and blood. Jordan says ‘once you normalize the idea of eating this kind of food, there is no issue eating it’. I always wondered why Chinese people eat organs. During my interview with Jordan I finally got an answer. In the past China was a very poor country; the big population had to survive with the little they found. This is the reason why nothing, no meat or organ, was spilled. Everything eatable, even rats, would be consumed.
The consumption of food can vary from summer to winter. For example, during the winter people will prefer to eat lamb meat because, in the Chinese culture, it is believed that lamb meat will keep your body warmer than other meats. The restaurants that serve this delicates will adapt their menu during the summer to other non-lamb dishes.
I’d get on the first flight back to Chengdu just to get some street food. Like the word already gives away: it’s food sold on the streets. Especially at night, Chinese vendors come and go with their little vehicle. It’s an important part of the Chinese food culture. The most known street food is Chinese Barbecue or 烧烤 (Shaokao). But, always be careful with your stomach when trying street food: many vendors have never heard of the word ‘hygiene’!