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Foreigners try Mid-Autumn Festival dishes from around China

(People's Daily Online)    16:41, September 12, 2019

Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most important festivals in China, takes place on September 13 this year - this coming Friday. It's a time for families to meet up, spend time together, and eat mooncakes - a round pastry loaded with one of any number of fillings.

However, in different cities and regions around China, people enjoy different dishes aside from just mooncakes. We take a look at some of the dishes enjoyed around the country during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Beijing - Grandpa Rabbit

Tu Ye (兔爷), or Grandpa Rabbit, is a famous fairy tale legend from Beijing. Legend has it that one year, a great plague hit the city of Beijing. Chang’e, the Moon Goddess, sent her pet, Yutu, or the Jade Rabbit in English, down to earth to cure the sick.

Thanks to the rabbit, Beijingers recovered, and Tu Ye became a legend. Today, the rabbit is a cute mascot which people make out of clay, or out of mashed potato for the dinner table. 

Restaurants paint the mashed potato with food colouring to give its bright appearance, and it can be served with a number of sauces, including sesame, to help give it some flavour.

Suzhou and Shanghai - Hairy crab with tea or osmanthus wine

Hairy crab is a delicacy in China, only available during a few short autumn months. This dish is prized for its subtle taste and its cooling (yin; 寒性) effect on the body, a concept central to Tradi-tional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In late September and October, an entire pop-up economy appears around these crabs, and they fetch crazy prices. Suzhou is famous for hairy crabs, as the most ex-pensive come from Yangcheng Lake, just outside of the city.

There is an intricate method to getting the delicious meat out from these crabs, with a set of about 7 or 8 tools which each have their own function. However, for most people, a pair of scissors and a pair of hands will do. Either way, it's messy work.

The crab is usually paired with hot ginger tea or wine. In TCM, the crab has a cooling effect on the body, and ginger, vinegar and wine are said to have warming qualities. Osmanthus wine is popular over the mid-autumn festival as the osmanthus flowers blossom in August.

Nanjing - Nanjing Salted Duck

In Nanjing, a typical dish on the dinner table is Osmanthus Duck, known as Nanjing Salted Duck in other parts of the country. This dish is only cooked on Mid-Autumn Day, partly because it is cooked with osmanthus flowers.

As the name suggests, it's a very salty dish and goes well with light vegetable dishes characteristic of this time of year.

Zhejiang and Jiangsu - Taro

People in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces eat taro during the Mid-Autumn Festival because, in local dialects, taro sounds like "good luck is coming" in Chinese. 

Taro is a staple dish around China throughout the year, but they are best harvested and most nutri-tious during the autumn season, which is another reason they find themselves on the dinner table at this time of year.

Fujian and Taiwan

The 300-year-old custom of Moon-Cake Gambling (bo bing) is only found in parts of Fujian and parts of Taiwan. It dates back to the Qing Dynasty and has six ranks, which are named as the win-ners in ancient imperial examinations. The traditional game has 63 different sized mooncakes as prizes.

Game players throw the dice in turns. Different pips win the player a relevant "title" and corre-sponding mooncake.

The winner gets the title of "Zhuangyuan," and his prize is the largest mooncake.

This is an old tradition and isn't as celebrated as it once was, but it's a great excuse to buy lots of mooncakes and have fun with your friends!

Sichuan and Chongqing - Mooncake hotpot or hotpot mooncakes

People in Sichuan prepare typical mid-autumn food like moon cakes, duck, glutinous rice cakes and rice dumplings. 

However, as a province known for its spicy food, combining everything with chili from soup to ice cream, people on Weibo jested that the next craze would be mooncake hotpot. Several brave social media users even posted their attempts. 

This combination might not sound like a delicious combination, but last year, Dezhuang, a brand representative of Chongqing Hot Pot, specially introduced a Dezhuang Hot Pot favored mooncake to its selection.

What food will you be enjoying this Mid-Autumn Festival? Let us know in the comments! 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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