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|Chengdu Travel, an Easy-going City
Located in the west Sichuan Basin of Southwestern China, Chengdu
was once cited by a magazine as the most stress-free city in
China. Bestowed with rich rainfall, fertile land, and a low cost
of living, Chengdu is imbued with an atmosphere of ease and
comfort, evident in its residents' leisurely manner. The
particularity of the region is also perceivable in the local
dishes, teahouses and, most of all, in the women of Chengdu.
Visitors to Chengdu therefore like to amble around the city,
enjoying the exuberant and inexpensive life style, rather than
rushing around the scenic spots.
Chengdu is well known for its Sichuan cuisine. Compared with
Guangdong dishes, those of Sichuan are equally delicious, but
more homely, and the gastronomic pleasure they bring never
palls. In China, twice-cooked pork (huiguorou) and diced pork
with peanuts in hot spicy sauce (gongbaorouding) are available
in most restaurants, and are among the most frequently ordered
People in different cities have diverse tastes in food: Beijing
people enjoy elaborate banquets to bolster their self-esteem;
for Shanghainese, the environment and atmosphere of a restaurant
take priority over the food, as dining is only a means through
which to flaunt their refined taste. People from Guangdong, on
the other hand, are solely concerned about the stuff of the
repast. As for the people of Chengdu, flavor is of utmost
importance. Chengdu people love to try food that is new and in
vogue. They will travel the length of the city just to taste a
newly devised dish in an out-of-the-way eatery, and local
restaurants are adept at coming up with an endless supply of
exotic dishes to entice new customers. Once a dish comes into
vogue, diners swarm to try it, and it is soon available in
almost every restaurant in the city.
Chengdu food is hot, spicy, succulent, and crisp. On Wangping
Street, Meiling Road and Yangxixian Street, are numerous
restaurants serving hot-pot and original Chengdu dishes. Among
them, the three run by scholars are most distinctive. Chuandong
Laojia (Eastern Sichuan Hometown) was founded by Er Mao, a poet
of the Miao ethnic minority. Having inherited his mother's
cooking skills, he developed a series of new dishes that blend
the flavor of Sichuan and Miao ethnic food. The Xiangjichu,
which was established by another poet, Li Yawei, enjoys brisk
business for its savory dishes and rustic-style service, and He
Nong, a man of letters, is an exponent of home cooking, and has
created the trademark of new-style Sichuan dishes --- Baguo Buyi
One very popular leisure pursuit in China is tea drinking, and
the teahouse is an indispensable feature in the life of Chengdu
people. As cafes and bars supersede teahouses in other Chinese
cities advancing towards modern metropolis status, most of the
traditional teahouses still do a good trade in Chengdu, the most
celebrated being the one inside the Great Mercy Temple.
It is said that the Great Mercy Temple was the first place that
Du Fu, eminent poet of the Tang Dynasty, visited after arriving
in Chengdu, and that he ate the free porridge given to the
homeless there. In the dynasties following, the temple served as
both a Buddhist sanctum and a place of recreation for both
officials and the populace. It is only in Chengdu that Buddhism
and human society blend harmoniously. Today a Chengdu Museum and
teahouse have been built inside the Great Mercy Temple. After
ordering a pot of jasmine tea at a nominal five yuan charge, the
customer may spend the whole day in the traditional-style
teahouse, with its winding corridors, carved beams, painted
pillars, and broad fanlight. Waiters serve tea in a particularly
skillful manner, from a distance with a long-spouted brass
teapot, from which a narrow arc of hot water pours directly into
the cup without spilling a drop. Besides tea, breakfast, lunch
and dinner, a full range of Sichuan dishes is also served at the
Great Mercy Teahouse. Casting a glance around the parlor, you
may see young lovers billing and cooing, middle-aged men reading
the newspaper, and elders tending their pet birds.
The teahouses in Chengdu reveal a particular attitude towards
life: that of acquiring the best service at the least cost.
Social demarcation within the social strata is blurred in the
teahouse. Sipping tea at the same table, people from different
regions become friends.
The carefree life in Chengdu greatly benefits local women, who
are generally of a sweet and charming nature. A Chengdu-based
writer has portrayed Chengdu girls in this way: "Chengdu girls
sound delectable and tender, even when they are squabbling. Many
of my friends are true Chengdu women. Despite having different
dispositions and interests, they all radiate feminine charm."
About the author:
Daniel Reed is the author of "Chengdu Travel, an Easy-going City". Visit
his web site: http://www.travellodge.info for more
traveling informaton about China.