Personal Note: I had visited Quanzhou a few times…it is not far from Xiamen where I would stay in China every year when I return for a visit. It is a very historical town, with many famous tourist sites and famous snacks! I had tasted all of them…it is worth a visit. Peace, steve, feb 19 firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
Savoring a snack in quaint Quanzhou
By XING WEN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-19
My appetite for sampling the food of Minnan, or southern Fujian province, led me to take a stroll down Quanzhou’s Xijie (West Street), which is lined with the oldest and most authentic snack bars and restaurants in the city.
I soon found that many other people had a similar plan for the Spring Festival holiday.
Hordes of visitors had already formed long lines in the drizzling rain to buy local delicacies like peanut soup, tusundong (sea worm jelly), hailijian (pan-fried oysters in scrambled egg) and jiangmuya (braised duck with ginger).
I walked among the noisy crowds before stopping at one shopfront. From the signboard over the door I noticed that the shop owner had been selling manjiangao-a local dessert made of sweet pastry layered with brown sugar, sesame seeds and crushed peanuts-for nearly 40 years.
So I decided to join the long line.
As I waited I had a look through the open door, where I could see old wooden furniture and a black coal-burning stove inside the store.
Near the stove, a middle-aged man was skillfully frying batter in a pan and adding peanuts and other ingredients to it.
He was chatting in Hokkien to a woman in a white apron, who was cutting up the finished pastries and packing them before handing them out to the customers waiting in line.
About 20 minutes later, I took my first bite of the dessert, which tasted like a moist sandwich cake.
It’s said that the sweet food was created to feed the Manchu troops serving the Qing emperor in their fight against the armies of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-64) that had marched into Fujian province in 1855.
That might explain why it was so filling.
Savoring a snack in quaint Quanzhou
By XING WEN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-19 08:01
Further down the road, there was a viewing platform on the rooftop of the Xijie tourist service center that overlooked the street and surrounding blocks.
The old redbrick buildings with their red roof ridges curling up like swallow tails, together with ubiquitous erythrina trees bearing their bright red flowers created a scene quaint as it was vivid.
The street, with its long history that can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), reminds visitors of the prosperous past of Quanzhou, a city that was the eastern starting point of China’s ancient Maritime Silk Road.
Ancient towers, chapels, mosques, temples and other historical religious sites and monuments are scattered throughout Quanzhou, suggesting that people from different ethnic and religious groups peacefully coexisted in the city for centuries.
That’s partly because the port city once attracted merchants, seamen and explorers from all over the world, bringing with them a diverse range of cultures and a wide variety of goods.
But what touched me most as I strolled along this historical thoroughfare, was not the time-honored sites themselves, but the strong sense of how daily life once played out here.
Vendors still sold their wares from the side of the street as residents dried their clothes on sun terraces. Children burst into fits of laughter as they blew bubbles as snatches of local nanyin music drifted down from open windows. And after turning from the main street into a narrow lane, I came across an old man sitting on a stone bench under a large banyan tree, reading newspapers of the day.
These scenes made me feel quite nostalgic for the pleasant neighborhood where I grew up.
I found that on the square in the middle of the street two shirtless men teaching onlookers how to perform paixiongwu (a chest-clapping dance)-a traditional folk dance from the Minnan region.
They were just one of the grassroots art troupes that the local government employs to stage cultural shows, such as nanyin music, Liyuan Opera and puppet shows.
“We often offer a variety of cultural performances and workshops during holidays on Xijie,” says Shangguan Zhipeng, the local events manager. “The street is the perfect setting for getting tourists closer to Quanzhou’s cultural roots.”
After my visit, I soon realized that Xijie had much more to offer than delicious local snacks-the city’s old quarter is something of a destination in its own right.