It still amazes me how much I can eat. Seriously, the past few weeks we have been invited for lunches, and dinners, and wedding feasts, and baby shower feasts, and countless other welcome parties.
That food is an integral part of Chinese culture is not new to most people. China is popular for its rich food culture, divided into many geographical areas, and each area with a distinct style of cooking. The ingredients used in the food are based on the natural agricultural products of the region.
While people in Northern China prefer noodles as a staple food, people in Southern China would fill up their stomachs with a bowl of rice. Here in Anhui, most people eat Mantou 馒头 (or Mo, how they call it here), a steamed bun, which fills you up quite quickly.
Anhui Food Culture
Actually, Anhui’s food is one of the eight famous cuisines of China, and also known as Hui or Wan Cuisine. It mainly consists of three styles representing three regions: the Yangtze River region, the Huai River region, and the Southern Anhui Region, whereas the southern style the most famous of all is, maybe because the birthplace was the region of the Yellow Mountains.
Contrary to some other cuisine, Anhui Cuisine rarely uses fried or stir fried cooking. It places a great deal of emphasis on natural foods, which makes it a very healthy choice. Also, because of Anhui’s abundant fields, mountains and forests, the ingredients are always local and use of fresh local herbs is preferred.
Bozhou’s famous Niurou Mo 牛肉馍
I am living in Bozhou, a city in the north of Anhui, very close to the border of Henan province. Except being famous for Chinese medicine and the historic figure of general Cao Cao, we also have a rich food culture here, but one dish has made Bozhou famous: It’s so-called Niurou Mo 牛肉馍.
This is a kind of crispy flour food stuffed with shredded beef and fine Chinese noodles. Bozhou people are very proud of their Niurou Mo. Even so far as to say it was featured in one episode of the popular series “A Bite of China 舌尖上的中国”. I haven’t watched the new episodes yet, but you can watch them all here in Chinese. We are not really sure if that specific restaurant which uses the popular show to advertise its Niurou Mo, really was on the show. It seems to be a mystery. Some say it’s a lie, some say it’s true. I haven’t watched it yet, so I don’t know.
You can find Niurou Mo at almost every corner in Bozhou. But there is one restaurant I can recommend as they really make the best Niurou Mo, and they are always very friendly. If you are ever here, I will take you.
I love Niurou Mo together with a fresh soup to balance the oily meaty taste. In most restaurants they offer all kinds of soups or porridge to go with your Niurou Mo dish.
There are more popular local dishes like a special beef soup, or Tongguan Fen pi 铜关粉皮, which can be noodles or sheets of jelly made from bean or sweet potato starch. Tongguan is actually the brand who is producing them. There are various dishes, but the most common one consists of Fen pi 粉皮 together with shredded cucumbers and a sauce.
I am now a big fan of that dish, but it took me a few tries to get used to the jelly texture.
If you ever come by Bozhou, make sure to try Niurou Mo, or if you vegetarian, at least try Bozhou’s Fen Pi 粉皮. I promise you won’t regret it.
For what food is your hometown most famous for?
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