I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The World Eats - Yunnan, China

When you travel in China, you can't miss eating all the variety of foods available.  The foods have such distinct taste and preparation which are passed down from generations.  The ways the foods are cooked and the ingredients they use depend on the climate, the culture and the living conditions of the people living in that area.

As I travel, I either listen to their stories about their food or I will read about them on the walls of restaurants.  Such beautiful stories give each dish its extra sentiment, that when I slurp the noodles or scoop up a spoonful of chillies, I will think about the lovely hands and hearts that went into making such delicious meals.

One such enjoyment is getting to know about the Cross Bridge Noodle 过桥米线.   It is Yunnan's most famous "small eats 小吃", side dishes.  It is the king of all side dishes in Yunnan.  In fact, the story about the noodle has such draw that if you are in Yunnan, especially in Kunming and Dali, and you have not tried this noodle, it is said that you have not been to Yunnan at all.

Restaurant in Kunming for Cross Bridge Noodle: 桥春园
Ingredients served in small plates and the softened noodles.
So, what is so good about this Cross Bridge Noodle?  The way they serve this dish is fascinating.  The meat, could be chicken or fish, is sliced thinly and accompanied with small condiment plates where each plate is filled with a few types of different raw leaves (even edible flowers) or mushroom,  and different type of pickles.  Some restaurant will add a raw egg.  The servings look as if you are having a feast.  A bowl of softened noodles come alongside the small plates.  At this time, you think that's about all they serve and you want to begin your feast, to my surprise, there came a big bowl of soup, which they told me that the soup is kept at 60℃ to 70℃.   The way to eat this is to put all the ingredients into the hot soup, one plate at a time, including the egg.  The heat of the soup will briefly "cook" all the ingredients.  Now, you are ready to eat your noodles.

This dish has a history and a beautiful story that show us how love is used in the way the Cross Bridge Noodle is served.

A long time ago, there lived a scholar with his wife.  The scholar was studying for his imperial exams and he needed a quiet place to study.  He found a place a distance from his home where he had to across a bridge to get there.  Not to let him miss his meals, his wife prepared lunch and walked the distance carrying food in a basket to his study sanctuary.  After a few days, she couldn't help but realize that the food kept getting cold when she served him.  She could not think of a better way to keep the food warm as there were no food warmer or thermos tiffin then.

One day, she prepared him chicken soup.  While crossing the bridge, she felt tired and thought of taking a rest.  She woke up with a jolt when she realized that she had fallen asleep.  She quickly opened the basket to check if the soup had turned cold.  Instead, she found to her amazement that the chicken soup was still warm.  She suddenly get the idea, the oil from the chicken had risen to the top of the soup keeping it warm for a longer time.

From that day on, she separated the soup with the noodles and the ingredients leaving a layer of oil on top of the soup.  When she served the scholar, the food was still warm.

Doesn't this story add sentiments when you eat Cross Bridge Noodle the next time?

Also, when you are in Yunnan, do try its beer which is named after Yunnan's complex climate and its topography.  The beer is called "wind flower snow moon 风花雪月".

There are also two dishes you would not want to miss: 沙锅鱼local fish claypot and 黄焖鸡chilli fried fiery chicken.

Cross Bridge Noodle was served in the biggest bowl ever in Lijiang, Yunnan.

Local fish cooked in claypot, a Dali delicacy.

Chili fried fiery chicken.  Also a Dali special dish.
Yunnan local beer.

My dinner in Dali, a feast with beer for 2, less than RMB100.

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