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May Day Holiday Travel Guide: Chengdu - Light up your tongue (2)

By Xue Meng (People's Daily Online)

08:50, April 26, 2012

Ma Po Tofu (chinapic.people.com.cn)

Most favored dishes in Chengdu – Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu, another very popular dish of Sichuan Cuisine, is made of soft tofu (bean curd), minced meat, hot chili, Hua Jiao, and broad bean paste. It’s famous for its mix of 7 flavors including numbing, spicy, hot, fresh, tender, delicious and crispy.

In Chinese “Ma” means tongue-numbing at the same pockmarks on face, and “Po” means old woman. There have been different versions of stories of how the name of this dish was born. One goes like this. A woman named Chen in the Qing Dynasty owns a very popular restaurant specializing in Tofu. Everyday her restaurant was pack with customers, which drew the jealousness of another shop owner, a young girl, across the street. Therefore, the young girl often tries to seduce this old lady’s customers and attract the customers to her own restaurant. One day, a customer came in Chen’s Tofu restaurant, holding a kilogram uncooked minced beef. Just after a few minutes he sat down, his attention was drawn away by the young shop owner across the street. The customer left without the meat and as more and more customers came to eating, one of the customers saw the meat and asked Chen to cook a Tofu dish with it. Although not knowing what to do, Chen made a dish which turned out to be a great success. Since Chen was in her 60s and her face was pockmarked, the dish was named as “Ma Po Tofu” by the local people.

This dish has become really popular over China and you can find it easily in many local restaurants. But of course, Sichuan is best place to try it.

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