Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 5 years 10 months ago

Information From Local Contacts:

When focusing closer on just the baba business here in Xizhou I started asking question specifically on the history of this business. I have learned that the Xizhou Baba has been around for decades [2] some even say for over 200 years of business. [5] This business has been strong for various years upsetting neighboring restaurants. Tourists come from all over China to see Xizhou and one of the big attractions is the Xizhou Ba Ba. [3][4][5] I also kept asking on specific methods and changes over the years about the way of making these great snacks. Locals say that the ba ba has lost lots of its quality over the years. [5][3] They say that the oil was once from Xizhou, but now bad imported oil comes in from surrounding cities. [5]

Information From 3-to-5's:

The Xizhou BaBa was supposedly invented couple thousand years ago by a man named 大苟 (da gou).[4][7] The people Xizhou called the Baba 大苟 back then. [4] Other names such as 牛舌头 (niu shi tou) meaning cow tongue. We know that today's BaBas do not look like cow tongues which lead me to ask why did they have such a name. The family that works in the restaurant stated that the Ba Ba was cooked a similar way, but with a simpler ingredients. Back then the Ba Ba was made up of wheat, yeast and lard. [5][4] Today there are two types of Ba Ba one sweet with red bean and another salty with meat and garlic. [2][4][7] Some people say that the Ba Ba was a sort of art back then. [6] The Xizhou Ba Bas did not become a speciality very quickly. It took quite a while until the business started to grow.

Background Information (from Phase 1, Step 4):

Of course the business could not be consistent with a single family due to in 1978 here in China private enterprises specifying in family-run shops and stores, were not allowed because of the great changes China went especially the growth in SOES (State Owned Entreprises) [9][11] Dali Xizhou cake is called “baba” by local people. It is a baked pastry made of wheat flour, lard and yeast. “Baba” is a snack in Dali area, and Xizhou Ba Ba is the most traditional and famous one. [1][12][13][14] The Ba Ba can be called Posu Baba as well by the local people in Xizhou. [12][13][14]  In Xizhou, a giant fry pan rests on a bed of coals. Oil is spread on the pan and several baba added. Then a large cover is placed over the fry pan, and it is some cover! The cover holds charcoal embers which act as the primary heat source, and the cover-fire is accelerated as needed by a large electric fan. [13] The town is famous for its markets and food.[8][15][16] The Bai architecture also plays a big role in their historical importance. I learned as well that there is lots of trade between near by town and cities.[15][16] Even though lots of citizens from different places use the lake as a source of income their are lots of fishermen from XiZhou.[15][1][16]

Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1, Step 5): 

1. How did this Business start?

I contacted the Xizhou Ba Ba place next to The Old Time Snacks restaurant and the owner told me that his father was the one who started the business in his family.

2. Who in the family is involved in this Business?

The husband, wife and the husbands mother are usually working while sometimes other students/apprentices come in and learn.

3. I wonder how many Xizhou Baba are made per day in the little store per day?

There is no straight answer to this question due to the variables in each day this number cannot be fixed, but an wise estimate is a couple hundred such as 300-500 Ba Bas per day.

4. What percent of the money in the business goes to the materials and power that hold up the business? 10. How much income is gained on a good day/month of sales? Even with the usage on income for materials and other essential needs.

The owner told me that for each Ba Ba he makes (costs 4 RMB) he only receives 0.5 Yuan for his own saving and costs the rest goes to materials, light, water in his workplace and at home.

5. How long has the business been around for?

This man has held his own working business just over 13 years. His father had a similar profession, but his son kept the tradition going. 

6. What they want for the future generations?

When asking the mother/wife this question she said she wanted her two sons to go of into the world and study to get a supposed better life than her life.

7. How long are the work hours? 8. I want to know how long the store is open for?

The business work hours are from 8 a.m to 6 p.m.

9 . When do the "employees" take breaks? How long?

The business is quite exquisite, meaning that they are working when asked to make more Ba Ba. This supports the idea of lots of breaks throughout the day.

10. How much income is gained on a good day/month of sales? Even with the usage on income for materials and other essential needs.

11. How do they keep track of the money coming in?

Each Ba Ba costs 4 Yuan at selling price and if 400 Ba Bas are made in one day then around 1,600 Yuan are put into the owners hands on that day. I believe there are the simple good day sales and the lesser ones throughout the year.

When having a third interview with my fellow Mr. Du and his Xizhou Ba Ba restaurant I learned new information about him and his personal business, which is: [4]

What kind of advertisement/marketing do you have?


How do students learn about you being available to teach them?

They eat the Ba Ba and then they decide to come and learn.

Does he have more costumers on weekdays or on weekends?

On weekends and on national holiday, especially CNY.

How much does the rent cost? (Restaurant)

The rent of the restaurant costs 700 RMB per month.

How much do you pay for electricity per month?

The bill of the electricity costs 15 RMB per month for the restaurant.

How long do you teach your students for?

It depends on the student, some stayed for two weeks others for two months.

What kind of plans for the future do you have for this business?

I have no plans for the future. Everyday passes by the same and I do not mind it.

Where do you get your oil? Why?

I get it from oil market, but then I refine and retouch it to make it taste better.

What do costumers prefer, sweet or salty Ba Ba?

Tourists prefer the sweet Ba Ba and the locals from Xizhou prefer the salty Ba Ba.

How many Ba Ba places in Xizhou?

In Xizhou there are around 50 to 60 different Xizhou Ba Ba places to buy from.

What kind of tax do you pay? Income/Business?

Many kinds in including health expenses and public space taxes.

Has this Business helped your family?

This business has definitely helped my family, this is my main source of income.

What is your passion in making Ba Ba?

I dislike making Ba Ba, because it is tiring, but it is the only way I can make money.


1 (Mr. Tafel)

2 (Xiao Tang)

3 (Mr. Yang Golden Flower Restaurant)

4 (Ba Ba family next to antique store)

5 (Mr. Yang (94 year old ex-Lawyer)

6 (Mr. Jiang Ba Ba costumer)

7 (Mr. Jiao Ba Ba Trainee)

8 (

9 (

10 (

11 (

12 (

13 (

14 (

15 (

16 (

17 (Ms. Mai)

18 (Personnal Observation)




The process you are going through is absolutely perfect and you are getting answers to your questions. I love that you have spoken with Mr. Yang. A 94 year old former lawyer... listen to his words of wisdom! Keep plugging away - I'm watching from afar!

Ms. D

Hello my name is Jorge. I am a student in the 9th grade at SAS Pudong. I am Mexican and have lived in five different countries which are: Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Brazil and China. I am 14 years old and I am super excited to help anyone going to Xizhou by participating in this great opportunity called Microcampus. I went to Xizhou in April-May 2013 and if anyone has questions be sure to ask me. I have five different people in my family, my father, mother, older sister, younger brother and myself.