I’ve been in Beijing for almost a month now, but these posts for Yanji are still hanging over my head. I don’t like to skip out on highlighting what I’ve experienced so far this year, and this was the perfect weekend to play a little catch up. What better way to come back than with some tasty treats to reminisce about?
During my stay at home, the phrase “多吃” (eat more) was repeated to me the most out of all the “Be careful when you’re by yourself in Beijing,” or “Make sure you stay healthy,” or other words of care for when I start at Tsinghua. Out of all requests and warnings, my relatives wanted me to eat constantly, to the point where I think I gained at least five pounds by the time I left. But no matter, they convinced me that once I leave I won’t be able to enjoy the foods they were offering (especially since I heard campus food at Tsinghua is at the most okay) so I might as well indulge in what was on my plate at the moment.
*Excuse the quality of some photos, I didn’t have my Canon camera with me all the time, therefore resorted to my iPhone.
糖葫芦 (tanghulu), a specialty from the north, was my favorite snack when I was little. Traditionally, it’s a bamboo stick full of hawthorn fruits covered in sugar. The fresh treats are usually sold outside at stands, so the sweet sauce naturally stays frozen in the cold, making it only available in the winter, thus only in the north. Nowadays, they also have variations of this candy including chocolate, kiwi, nuts, and grapes.
Whenever I go back to Yanji, there are two things I always have to eat before I leave – cold noodles and lamb kabobs. Ironically, my grandmother dislikes both, and the weather wasn’t friendly for the cold noodles this time around, but I didn’t care. By now, it’s a tradition two of my meals must consist one or the other each time I visit my hometown.
Yanji is a lot more developed since I last visited, meaning new shops and restaurants, including a famous lamb kabob chain called 丰茅窜店 (fengmao cuandian), or Feng Mao Kabobs. Luckily my aunt made reservations so we didn’t have to wait, but for those who didn’t plan a day ahead, you are welcome to surf the internet in the lobby or watch your kids play on their indoor playground during the cue. Some are willing to wait one or two hours before the next table is available. This is a smart way to keep the customers waiting and say that they want to serve everyone, as long as you’re patient.
Well, I definitely had a party with the kabobs. They were nothing less than fantastic.
Many times my plans revolved around food, like that’s a surprise now. However, I remember it was particularly hard to plan out getting cold noodles. The weather was either too cold or I had other plans. And of course, I could only have cold noodles if they had these chicken meatballs with a certain crispness to it. Otherwise, it’s not cold noodles to me. My grandpa knew exactly what I was talking about so he took us to the most famous cold noodles restaurant in Yanji (it’s a shame I don’t remember the name). I finally satisfied my craving of five years, and it tasted exactly as how I remembered it to be.
My aunt also knows I love hot pot, so she took us to a restaurant that is known for its variety of sauces. Gosh, it felt like heaven.
In the 13 days I was in Yanji, I went to more shopping centers and food markets than anything else. If you want fresh vegetables and meat picked and butchered the morning of, you would want to go to the east or west 市场 (markets) where you can pick it out yourself and bargain with the merchants.
Another favorite of mine? Red bean buns, one of the many options I had at my grandparents’ house from the bread, pancakes, and other 饼 (bing), what we call staples made from flour.
From this post, it looks like all I did was eat. That’s partly true, aside from taking naps and preparing the meals. But seriously, I originally planned on finishing up my trip in Yanji in one more post. Then I realized this wouldn’t do the food justice, nor would it properly draw attention to the things I learned beyond the eateries. This post is for me to drool over how I miss Yanji, but next post will be a little more personal.