Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 1 year 1 month ago

Phase 3 is going to help me understand my topic (Muslim food- Halal) in a experts view.  This Phase requires me to find contacts in XiZhou who will be willing to share their knowledge about Muslim Food in XiZhou. I would have to use the 10 big questions I made earlier in Phase 1 to fuel this research foward. Phase 3 is a ecential part of this project that will granted me more information on my topic. 

Background Research from Phase 1: 

XiZhou's most common food is pork. Pork is a essential diet that the Bai Minority can not lose, pigs are easy to raise, they reproduce in large numbers and give you in of protein you need for up coming day.[1] For the others, having so much pork in their diet can get dull, therefore the women in the Bai Minority are skilled in making pickle, and sauces to go with the pork.[1] XiZhou is also known for their sweet, sour and spicy flavors.[2] 

But 15% of the population in the Bai Minority are Muslims so their general source of protein would be chicken. The Muslims have a strict rule of cooking, called the Halal or Qing Zheng.[6] In a Arabic "Halal" means lawful. There ae guidelines that they have to follow. In the guideline of Halal, they have to kill the animal by given it as little pain as possible. When the animal is killed, they cut jugular vain is cut and the blood is drained out. Muslims do not consume any animal blood. [7]

Up in the mountainous areas taro, corn and buckwheat are consumed more than rice. On the other hand the people who live in small towns use rice as a search for starch and do not consume as much taro, corn and buckwheat. [2] The water bounty from Erhai lake including fish, seaweeds, crab and shrimps also enriches the Bai Peoples menus significantly. But the Bai Minority also use a lot of flowers such as: rose, lotus, pear blossom, chrysanthemum, white azaleas, and orchid can be stire fried or stewed to provided more elegant dishes that costs a lot more. [2] The eating experience in the Bai Minority is described my many as the best regional eating experience in China . [3] 

But pork wasn not their only essential diet, yak was equally as important. Yak provides cheese, milk and meat.[4] Its fur can also be made into coats to keep the people warm at winter. But to go a long with all the meat and pickles the people of Bai Minority also drink a lot of tea. There is a famous tea ceremony called the Three Course Tea , it is used then the host is honoring the guest. It refers to offering tea for 3 times. the first course is called bitter tea. The second course is called the sweet tea. The third course is called aftertaste tea. The first course is called bitter tea because the tea is roasted yellow and has a bitter taste to it. It means one will suffer a lot before they get successful. Then they pour fresh water and add brown sugar which makes the tea sweet. Meaning you only get the sweetness after you endure the bitter. Then the third course is made by pouring the tea through honey and Pepper. You when you drink there it is sweet but it leaves a spicy after taste. Meaning a person needs to remain clam and peaceful after being through so much.[5] XiZhou is filed with interesting flavors and smell, through the years of migration and climate change the Bai Minority has adapted and create delicious cousins. 

While I was in XiZhou interviewing people in the Linden center I learnt a few facts. When ever there is a festival there often has a dish called "The 8 dishes". There is large amounts of all kinds of festive foods such as pork and bamboo.[8] Also BaBa is extremely popular in XiZhou, many travelers stop by to taste the local delicacy. It has sweet, cheesy , ham, and plan flavors.  A lot of the food in the market is all grown my the people selling them, and you are only allowed to fish for 4-5 months. Because the government closes off the lake for the fish to grow. [9] During summer time flower is a common thing to add in dishes as well. It gives a nice sweet sent, however you need to boil some of the flowers first, otherwise you will get food poisoning. [9]

Information from 3-5's:  

It was a little difficult to find people in the Linden Centre that knew something about Halal diet in XiZhou, however I was still able to get plenty of information. Apparently there is a dish called 八大碗 (8 big bowls), many people have it when guests are over or during festival times. 八大碗 consists of fish, beef, pork, vegetables ..etc. It is a meal that provides a balance feast. [9]  Er Hai lake is only for fishing for 4-5 months. The government bans fishing for 7-8 months to allow the fish eggs to hatch and the fish to grow. [9] So the people of XiZhou eat a lot more meat. During Summer time, when all the flowers has blossomed, cooks in XiZhou add flower into their food to give it a sweet twist. [9]  Because Muslims do not eat pork so they also go to seperate stands in the market. If you go into the local XiZhou market there are 1 or 2 Muslim stands. [10] There are also a name use for Muslim Restaurants called 清真馆. [8]  

Information from Local Contacts :

Muslims are also not allowed to consume alcohol so none of their diet includes alcohol. [11] Also Muslims can not buy or cook animals that are already killed. So the local market in XiZhou provides them with live cows, chickens and sheep or them to buy. [11]  They bring home the animal and proceed religious ceremonies before killing the animal. [11] Also Halal food as not really changed over time, only the price of beef. So now they eat less beef.  八大碗 (ba da wan, or 8 dish bowl)  is a traditional Chinese festival dish that contains a total of eight dishes, most of the time 八大碗 serves more meat.   [11] In 八大碗 you include many different methods  methods of cooking: steam, sauced, roast, stew, fry and boiled. But also minced meat, steamed meat, fish, lamb strips/ chicken strips, beef meat balls, and Chinese cheese. However the intestines of the cow are also used, such as the liver or the stomach.  Muslim 八大碗 is quite famous because long time ago the Muslim People in Qinnan were poor, so they often made 八大碗 so all the neighbors and families can share and enjoy the food. That is why the Muslim style of 八大碗 is generally considered more a live and fun. One dish in 八大碗 is especially difficult to make and that is the beef meat ball, 牛肉丸子. [12]  Many people say that is the best tasting dish of all eights dishes in 八大碗. 牛肉丸子 is one the one of the rarer dishes you can find in Muslim restaurants. Because the price of beef, many restaurants do not want to spend the money and time on making them. Also Muslim people do not make lamb or chicken meat ball because they think its a waste because the meat is not as tender as beef. They roast the lamb more, a popular way to cook the lamb is plan and simple.[12] Not to much spice so the lamb can keep its taste, just some onions and garlic.  However to buy all the ingredients require time and effort. In Muslim custom you can not say the word 杀(sha) , instead you have to use the word 宰 (zai).[11]They both mean kill but it is more respectful to the animal you are about to kill.[11] There is also a specific way you have to gut the animal for the Muslim people here. You first get the chicken and pick its feathers off in clean water. Then you slowly cut open the chicken and get rid of the guts as well as the smell. The reason they do that is  allow the chicken to keeps its taste and not allow its feces.[12] Once you do this you can leave the insides you want to cook inside the chicken and it will smell better after it is cooked. One of the reasons the Muslim People use this troublesome method is because they like to steam their chicken. However if you steam the chicken the stomach might burst, which gives off a bitter taste. Opening up the chicken then sewing it up allows some pressure to escape.[12] They also but the cows open but they do not sew them up because they do not have fur.  The Bai minority does not use this method because they think it is too troublesome. But the they still love way the Muslim people cook it so they ask the Hue Minority (Muslim tribe) to cook it for them. [12] 

Answers to previous questions:  

These questions listed under are the questions from Phase 1

Do the dishes they cook change with the seasons? 
Yes it does, in summer time they use flower pedals to bring sweetness to their dishes. 4~5 months of the year is also fishing season so they have more fish during that time period as well. 

Are the recipes passed down from generations before you? 
Every person I interviewed about Muslim food have had their recipes passed down by their parents. Normally mother to daughter. 

Has any dish in the Bai Minority (now focused on Muslim Food) change in the last decade? 
The food has not really changed however the price of beef has risen to a expensive price so there is less beef in their food now. 

What are the most popular dishes in Bai Minority?
Many of the people I ask respond with the Muslim Meat Ball. It contains 3+ more ingredients and can be served in soup or dry. 

What is the most popular way to cook? 
In resturant wise, frying their food would be quick and easy. However in peoples homes there is different opinions. Steaming and and mince meat are all common. 

What are some uncommon dishes in XiZhou (Muslim Food)? 
Based on my research i would say the Beef Meat Ball and the Eight Dish Bowl (八大碗) is very uncommon because they are very complicated to make and take lots of time. 

Does some dishes have a certain story behind it? 
So far I have not ran across a dish that has a story behind it. 

Does any of the dish have any connection to a western influence? 
Based on my research so far I have no ran across a dish that has western influence in it. 

Do the people who live there grow their own herbs? Or do they have some where to shop? 
As I got a chance to look at local markets, most people do not grow their own herbs except for mint. Farmers grow them herbs and bring them to the local market to sell. 

What are some ingredients they use in their dishes? 
They use flower pedals, green pepper, red pepper, onions, carrots, and spices. 

Click on Phase 4 to follow my project. 

1- China High Lights 2014/4/7

2- Bai People, a Legendary Minority in Yunnan 2014/4/7

3-Linden Center, 2014/4/9 

4- Anna S's project 2014/4/9 

5- SAS data base Million Short- 2014/4/9

6- Mr T's Comment 2014/4/2 

7- Middle east food guide- 2014/9

8-  Jenny (front desk of Linden center) 2014/4/21

9- Guard of Linden center Du 2014/4/21

10- YeLing (staff at Linden Centre)  2014/4/21

11- MS Ma (Owner of bakery)  2014/4/28

12- Ms Ma (from antique shop) 2013/4/30





This is pretty interesting. Have you decided which type of foods you will be focusing on? It'll be pretty cool if you did something about baba (ask Mr. T about it if you don't know what that is). Have fun in Yunnan!

Bai minority cuisine

Hi Hugh, please write down some simple recipes for some of the main dishes and we can cook them when you come home, love Dad

Tea drinking ceremony

Hugh, very interesting tradition regarding this famous three tea course ceremony for honoring the guests. I myself would enjoy to experience this one as it is full of meanings - 'bitter' that teaches us to work hard, 'sweet' to enjoy success after the hard work, and ''aftertaste' to quickly and calmly move on to another meaningful task that needs our hard work again! Please write more about other traditions and what they mean - it is very enjoyable to read. Thanks, Nina's mom.

Hi Hugh, thanks for sharing

Hi Hugh, thanks for sharing all the insights on the muslim variations of food in Xizhou. it all sounds very exotic and delicious. You have clearly spent a lot of time and energy on this project and come up with some clear ideas and lot's of information that you have shared with us, that makes us all want to try the food. We'll see you in 24 hours, love Dad.

Im fourteen years old with a British father and a Taiwanese mother. I was born in Taiwan and lived there for 11 years. Mircocampus has given me an opportunity to see some less urban sides of China. I have stayed in XiZhou for a month now, begin part of the Microcampus program has really been a great experience. XiZhou is a magical place.