Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 3 years 3 months ago

In the third phase of the stages of Microcampus, I will be conducting a research process about the cuisine in Xizhou. As a recap, Phase 0 was the stage where I decided on a topic, using questions that specified between many other topics. Using these questions, I finally decided that Cuisine will be my topic. In this Phase of research, I will be finding sophisticated information that will support my real-time research in the field. In this phase, the information will be separated in parts.

Background Information

Yunnan, the province that Microcampus will be heading is populated at about 45 million people [2] are located right next to the Sichuan province, which is known for its usage of spicy spices. This involves Chili, Chili oil, garlic, ginger, herbs, and broad bean pastes. The spices that are mentioned are primarily used for giving a special taste to the main ingredients, which usually includes meat. Due to its 55 different ethnic groups within the province of Yunnan, many have their own unique cooking styles that vary[3]. Although Yunnan is most known for Baba[1], it has many other dished filled with rich taste. However, some argue that Yunnan (province of Xizhou) is not appropriate to be called "cuisine"[3], due to its lack of variety in recipes.

However, Yunnan Province food is most known for its rich taste and use of variable ingredients.[4] Anyways, some of the most famous dishes are the GuoQiao Noodles, also known as Cross Bridge Noodles if translated. First, the noodles are prepared without any spices. After that, the noodle is served with boiling hot soup, sliced beef, vegetable oil, and spices that bring out the flavor.[4] Other dishes also include steamed-pot chicken, pot-cooked fish, Xuanwei ham, spiced squab, and chicken wing with goat stomach and fungus. Erkuai is also a very famous dish that is from the regions of Xizhou. Erkuai is a compressed form of rice cake[5], which can be made into noodles, or a crepe like pancake.

Secondly, Liangfen is also an example of a dish in Yunnan. Liangfen is a jelly-like textured food, which is usually served with a combination of spicy sauces[5]. There are many varieties to this dish, where the Liangfen can be made with sweet potato or green bean. As already mentioned, the highly varied amount of tribes within the province gives this dish a unique flavor.

The province is most known for its frequent usage of natural resources that are rich in flavor, such as Matsutake Mushrooms. These mushrooms are common throughout the province, however is very rare and expensive [2]. These mushrooms may reach up to 2000 dollars per kilogram! Known for its aromatic odor and its rich taste, these mushrooms are one of the treasures of the province. This is possible because of the rich land of Xizhou, which is useful due to its rich land and the correct amount of sunlight. The people of Xizhou mainly grow  rice, corn, canola, wheat, beans, and tobacco[1].Yunnan cuisine is also influenced by many areas that are local to its area. As an example, the GuoQiao Noodles are very similar to Pho (Rice Noodles from Vietnam), where Vietnam shares a border with the province of Yunnan. 

Information From 3 to 5s

Xizhou is a place with Bai, however Bai is spread out along the province. This caused the food from a slightly different region to be very similar, which can help my research.

Informations from Local Contacts

Ms. Zhao[6] 
Ms. Zhao is the owner of Old Town Snacks, also known as 古镇小吃。She owns the restaurant famous for the Tafel Fried Rice, and many more tasty delicacies with her husband. She is a local Yunnan-person. This experience was great for me as I could see how young-local students enjoy local food.

  • Travellers usually come to Yunnan to have TRADITIONAL food
  • Tourists do not affect Food Recipes, however, it affects which foods are popular.
  • Food eaten by locals do not vary much from travellers.
  • Some specialties of Yunnan include Mi Xian, Baba, Suan-La Yu, Sheng Pi, Ru Shan
  • Most of ingredients are locally produced.
  • These include Vegetables such as Brocolli, Potato, Corn, Broad Beans.
  • It is connected with Sichuan and Guizhou, which shares borders with borders with Yunnan
  • All of the provinces enjoy Spicy and Peppery.
  • Lot of foods are Spicy-Sour, also known as "Suan-La"
  • To get Sour, they usually use Mu Gua, which is sour Papaya.
  • However, Vinegar is imported from other places
  • Rice is made into Er Kuai and Er Si, which are like noodles and bricks.
  • There are not many riddles to food, but there is one for GuoQiao Mi Xian.
  • Guo Qiao means cross bridge!
  • The husband was living separate to study for an exam, which the wife had to bring separate hot broth and noodles in order to keep it from being spoiled. To do this, she had to cross a bridge which is why the noodles are called "GuoQiao".

Ms. Zhao's husband[7]
Ms. Zhao's husband is with her at Old Town snacks, and he knows food very well. It was interesting to see conflicting and joined viewpoints from his wife.

  • Students enjoy 小吃Restaurants.
  • Students tend to not eat at school cafeteria.
  • The students complain about bad taste and poor quality at school.
  • The prices are low at Yunnan, generally under 20
  • Most of Yunnan food is around rice.
  • This can include Mi Xian and Er Si and Er Kuai.
  • Liang Fen is also a Yunnan specialty
  • Liang Fen is made out of starch.

 

Ms. Dong [8]
Ms. Dong owns the Golden Flower Restaurant aka 金华饭店 in Si Fang Jie. Her and her husband Mr. Yang has been selling food for a long time. This was a great experience to see how a restaurant enjoyed by locals vary from 小吃 Restaurants.

  • Travellers enjoy less spicy food
  • This can include less amount of spices and chili.
  • However, food that tourists eat are more or less the same.
  • Foods are very seasonal in Yunnan[10]
  • It is seasonal because most of the materials are grown locally
  • This includes broad beans, corns, peas, and potatoes.
  • Lot of Xizhou's food include stir-fry
  • Most of oil is from Rape Seeds, aka Canola as it is locally produced.
  • Yunnan eats rice in many forms.
  • This includes Mi Xian (Noodle), Er Si (Noodle), Er Kuai (Brick shaped pancake), and normal rice which can be cooked in many ways.
  • Specialties include Raw Pork, Ru Shan, and Seaweed.
  • Foods are very similar between provinces with minor differences.

 

Ms. Hong[9]
Ms. Hong is a owner of a Ma La Tang Restaurant near Si Fang Jie's construction site. She is from Yunnan, but she brought over Sichuan's specialty to bring the locals a special flavor. This conversation was very interesting as her thoughts strengthened my belief about influence from other provinces.

  • Food of Yunnan is heavily influenced other provinces
  • Differences of Sichuan and Yunnan include the usage of Ma.
  • She learned cooking from Sichuan, but adapted it to Yunnan flavors.
  • Yunnan enjoys more chili but less ma, but Sichuan has more ma but less chili.
  • Yunnan food materials are all natural and locally produced
  • Most of restaurant owner's get their material from the morning market
  • Tourists generally do not make much difference to the menu, as they want to enjoy traditional food.
  • Most of spicy food consumers are local
  • Young people tend to enjoy spice, as elders cannot handle spice.
  • Mala Tudou is also popular among tourists, which are potatoes with Mala sauce.
  • A Food that accompanies Mala Tang is Suan Mei Tang.
  • Suan Mei Tang is translated to Sour Plum Soup, but it is more like a drink.
  • It is made with cooked Plums liquified into a drink.

Ms. Zhong[11]
Ms. Zhong and her sister owns a noodle restaurant located in Si Fang Jie. This was amazing as I could have a deep conversation with her, and she also raised a new question about the influence of Social Media.

  • Travellers, aka "You Ke" do not eat much different from Locals
  • Most Locals enjoy Suan-La, which is Sour-Spicy.
  • This is similar with Sichuan, but Sichuan enjoys Ma-La which is Hot-Spicy.
  • However, travellers enjoy milder flavors
  • People from Sichuan enjoys putting Mi La, which are called Rice Chili because of its size.
  • Mi La is known for its super spice.
  • Locals enjoy ErSi more, because it is made with rice and suitable for meals.
  • Tourists enjoy Sha-Guo MiXian, which are Sand-Pot Rice Noodles.
  • The restaurant gets promoted by WeiBo, which is like Chinese Twitter
  • WeiBo receives lots of views from people, which is why the restaurant became popular among tourists.
  • This gives the restaurant basically free advertisements.
  • All the ingredients of the restaurant is organic and local.
  • Liang Fen is made out of Beans, which are also organic and local.
  • The Beans are made into Powder, which are later boiled into Noodles.
  • Young people enjoy these foods better than elders.

Ms. Zhong's Sister[12]
Ms. Zhong's sister works with her whenever Ms. Zhong requires help.

  • Weibo has a heavy influence on tourists
  • It is like free commercials, like what Ms. Zhong said.
  • Yunnan enjoys rice and spice!
  • Vegetables that are grown include potatoes, garlic, rape, rice, and corn.
  • Most of the Garlic is exported to Korea, which is used for Kimchi in Korea.
  • Foreigners tend to add less spice.

The Yunnan Cookbook[13]
The Yunnan Cookbook is filled with rich information which has great history and other information! This book gave me plenty of rich basic information that I required to back up my thoughts.

  • Yunnan has vast amounts of farms.
  • Noodles are commonly used for breakfast in Yunnan
  • Buns are also very common.
  • Food between ethnic groups are different, but quite similar.
  • Some people from other Provinces come to Xizhou to appeal to travellers.
  • Soups are also common house-hold recipes.
  • Eggs are hugely popular, as chickens are common in houses.
  • People hunt for Mushrooms, as they can get up to 1300 rmb per kilogram.
  • Vegetables and Tofu are highly popular, which is also an export to provinces to Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
  • Different types of Cheeses are popular, as cows and goats are common farm animals.

Jake[14]
Jake works at the Linden Centre, and he works a guide for tourists and works voluntarily at a local kindergarten.

  • Lot of tourists use the internet to find restaurants.
  • SNS (Social Network Services) are common within China.
  • Most people use WeChat, as it is the most convenient.

Mr. Fan[15]
Mr. Fan is from Chong Qing, and owns a Chong Qing Noodle restaurant at Si Fang Jie. As he is an local immigrant, he shared his opinion on how his movement to Xizhou affected his cooking methods.

  • Lot of people use the internet to find restaurants.
  • Tourists do not the way to the road, which is why they use Social Media
  • Tourists also recommend restaurants to each other.
  • WeiBo and WeChat are all great ways to promote restaurants.
  • He migrated from ChongQing, which his store is commonly used by Non-Locals.
  • His flavors are more of his region, which is Ma La.
  • This causes most of his consumers to be form Sichuan and Chongqing.
  • His teacher also owns a store near Dali old town.
  • While some flavors are modified, most of it is traditional.

Ms. Yin[16]
Ms. Yin owns a Rose-Petal Jam store near the streets of Xizhou. Her sharing of ideas helped me answer my questions about the influence of Social Media.

  • She puts her QR Code of her Wechat on the sticker.
  • This helps people to connect with her store globally.
  • Many people read reviews to choose where to go.
  • As WeChat is common and shared with many people, this can promote her store.
  • Also, the influence is heavy as this can show live updates.
  • Rose Petal Jam is not traditional, but more of a specialty within the Xizhou region.
  • The locals eat the jam with bread and Erkuai, which is like a rice pancake.
  • While the locals enjoy Brown Sugar, Youkes enjoy White Sugar.

Ms. Yang [17]
She works at the same Kindergarten which Jake works in, and teaches over 140 kids. It was interesting to see how young kids these days get affected.

  • Foods are limited to kids as they are young.
  • Danger is importantant, which is why they prefer safe foods.
  • They do not eat fish, as fish bones may be dangerous
  • Many spices are limited, so it is better for the kids
  • Frying is not allowed, due to health concerns.
  • Feeding 140 kids are difficult, as there is only one chef.
  • Most of kids eat the Yunnan-cuisine, which is like their home.

Answers to Previous Questions (From Phase 1)

Note: The words in italics are my answers.

History of the dish

 

1. What is the history behind this food? How was it made?

Since China has a 5000 year history, many foods of Xizhou have very long history for each item. However, many items vary on how it is made, but many of Yunnan dishes included the technique of Stir-Frying. Yunnan also shares its borders with many other provinces, which is why many of the neighboring provinces also enjoy spice.

 

2.Are there any historic backstories, or commonly known riddles about this food?

Although China has a long history of its nation, I found out that there are not much food stories compared to its vast variety of food available. However, there is a riddle about the Guoqiao Mixian. Guoqiao in Chinese means Cross Bridge, which connects with the riddle. According to Ms. Zhao's story, a husband was a an preparing for a test that lived faraway. Due to this, every time when his wife delivered noodles, it would be all cold. Therefore, his wife separated the hot broth and the noodles with materials, which was how the noodles were named Guoqiao.

 

Views from Foreigners

 

3. How do foreigners, or tourists think about this dish?

Most tourists come to Xizhou to experience Local dishes. However, food that is eaten by foreigners and tourists are usually mildly adjusted from locals. For example, the flavors are less intense, which includes the usage of Mi La and the different types of Chili Peppers.

 

4. Did this food do any effect on the reputation from tourists of Xizhou?

Food is one of the most popular reasons for people to come to Yunnan, as it is known for its cleanliness and rich flavors. However, many tourists only enjoy stereotypical dishes such as Baba and Mixian, and usually do not have actual food that Locals eat. After all, the foods of Yunnan has a big role on the reputation from tourists.

 

Local Effects on Food

 

5. Does heritage of your family have any effect on how the dish is prepared?
Religion and Region of the family has a large affect on food! Many people from other regions of China arrive to Yunnan, as it suddenly became such a tourist attraction among the Chinese. Due to this fact, many food from Si Fang Jie has a combination of foods from different regions, such as Sichuan and Chongqing. Also, the large population of Muslims within the province of Yunnan created many restaurants specifically made for local Muslims.

 

6. Are recipes varied whether if locals or tourists are eating it?

Yes. As tourists may not be used to the strong flavors of Suan-La of the Yunnan province, many restaurant owners tend to adjust the flavor slightly. For example, Ms. Dong at the Golden Flower Restaurant uses less Mi La for each type of person.

 

7. How is it eaten in Xizhou? Does it vary by region?

Although there are many types of food within the province of Yunnan due to a common history of Migration, the way of eating the food is quite similar.

 

Additional Information

 

8. Are there any unique foods that will only be found in Xizhou?

Yes! Ru Shan (Cheese), Sheng Pi (Raw Pig), Baba (Bai Minority Pizza-Like specialty), and Suan-La Yu (Sour-Spicy Fish) are all great examples of local specialties.
 

9. What are the difficulties while preparing this dish?

Although there were many different difficulties that the restaurant owners faced, there was one thing that the owners faced. Their biggest fear was what if the customer did not like it? This inspired me, as the simple judgment of a single customer can make huge changes to the thoughts and actions of the restaurant owner!
 

10. Are there any related or similar dishes from the other region to this dish?

Yes, because Yunnan province shares its borders with other countries, which means that some of its cuisine is similar with some provinces.

 

Note: These are original questions that I came before the trip. To see the modified set of questions, please See Phase 1 for Details.

 

After this long process of research both locally and online, it is time to move on to my next process. In Phase 4, I will choose the method of presentation for the final output of a combination of my knowledge.

 

Sources

1. Online: Cameron W. Personal Research: http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/content/phase-3-interpreting-information-99 Accessed 2 February 2016.
2. Online: Luca L. Personal Research: http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/content/phase-3-interpreting-information-117 Accessed 2 February 2016.
3.Online: Annabelle Jackson. Online Article. http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/food-wine/article/1581442/just-what-exactl... Accessed 3 February 2016.
4. Online: Cultural China. Online Article: http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/en/133Kaleidoscope6181.html Accessed 3 February 2016.
5. Online: China Sichuan Food. Online Article: http://www.chinasichuanfood.com/yunnan-trip-yunnan-food/ Accessed 3 February 2016.
6. Ms. Zhao. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 10 March 2016.
7. Ms. Zhao's Husband. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 10 March 2016.
8. Ms. Dong. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 11 March 2016.
9. Ms. Hong. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 14 March 2016.
10. Waiters at Golden Flower Restaurant. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 11 March 2016.
11. Ms. Zhong. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 15 March 2016.
12. Ms. Zhong's sister. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 15 March 2016.
13. Annabel Jackson & Linda Chia. The Yunnan Cookbook. Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong: 2014.
14. Jake. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 21 March 2016.
15. Mr. Fan. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 21 March 2016.
16. Ms. Yin. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 21 March 2016.
17. Ms. Yang. Personal Interview conducted by SeYoung K., 21 March 2016.

 

 

Comments

Lots of Effort

You have put in a lot of effort in interviewing the people and gave me an abundant amount of notes and details about its cuisine.

Hello! My name is SeYoung. I am currently 13, and I came back from Xizhou. I have lived in China for 7 years. I came to Guangzhou when I was 7, which I lived there for a year. After that, I lived in Beijing for three years and Shanghai since fifth grade. I decided to join Microcampus because I think that only learning in Shanghai is different from actually interacting with the locals. It was so amazing to be in Xizhou, and I wish I could go back in time to visit again!