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Explore the soup culture, a striking feature of Luoyang cuisine

By Zhang Wenjie, Liu Ning (People's Daily Online)    11:04, January 22, 2021

How do you kick off a cold winter morning full of energy and passion for the day’s work that lies ahead? A hot bowl of soup for breakfast might be the answer in Luoyang, central China’s Henan Province.

Luoyang locals are food connoisseurs when it comes to various soups, which exemplifies the most striking feature of Luoyang cuisine. “Have you drunk soup today?” also becomes the way for Luoyang people to greet each other.

Majieshan Beef Soup Restaurant has been open for nearly 170 years. The founder launched the business in the Qing Dynasty, and Ma Jiaming, the current owner of the restaurant, is the sixth-generation inheritor.

To present the soup with perfect flavor, the staff starts cleaning and cooking the fresh beef at 3 a.m. every morning. To make the broth, the beef bones are boiled and then simmered for nearly two hours with homemade spices. “I am very proud and honored to have a chance to make this meal for our Luoyang people, and hopefully one day we can make this meal for the world,” Ma told People’s Daily Online.

With the sound of clappers and the chant yelling “serve up,” the Luoyang water banquet, a set of dishes comprised of eight cold and 16 warm dishes, is unveiled. Originating in Luoyang, a city with a dry climate and mountainous terrain, the water banquet is widely welcomed because of its soup-based meals.

Starting in the Tang Dynasty, the water banquet gets the name as each warm dish is cooked in broths, and each dish is served in sequence, like the flow of water.

Made of turnips and other vegetables, with a carved peony in the center of the dish, the “Peony Swallow Dish” is the most famous and striking out of the 24 dishes. The dish was said to be complimented by Wu Zetian, the only female monarch in the history of China.

Along with the peony and the Longmen Grottoes, the water banquet is considered one of the “Three Wonders of Luoyang,” with Luoyang residents regarding it as a unique feast to treat important guests or for celebrations.

The various soups, whether served as street food for a late-night snack or tasted at the historic and exuberant water banquet, have once again stolen the show and will surely haunt tourists’ taste buds for years to come. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Zhang Wenjie, Liang Jun)

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