Friday, October 2, 2015

Tibet and China 4 - Kunming


Our last stop in Yunnan Province was its capital, Kunming. This city is a giant melting pot of various ethnic minorities and mainstream Chinese culture. Our stay in Kunming was short but I really enjoyed it.

The main site we visited was the stone forest. This all-natural spread of rock formations was unreal. We climbed to a high vantage point and spotted artsy rock shards as far as the eye could see. It was like being dropped into a life sized bonsai-style mountain range.

The first meal we had in Kunming was one recommended by our guide. When your local guide who was born and bred in the city says "this is one one meal you have to have while you're here", you'd be silly to ignore her.

Rain over a lake; it's nice watching rain when you're not in it

I had heard of "crossing bridge noodles" when I did some online research about the local cuisine but I had no idea what that meant. Apparently the legend is about a wife who prepared food for her husband who was studying on an isolated island (of course every Chinese fable is about study). To keep the meal warm, she kept the cooked noodles separate and added them to hot chicken stock after she crossed the bridge to meet her husband.

Crossing bridge noodles

Whatever the truth of that is, crossing bridge noodles involves a giant bowl of chicken broth and an assortment of plates on the side containing: rice noodles, thinly sliced raw pork, chicken, pickles, herbs and optional other bits and pieces. Once you get your set, the idea is to stir everything together and slurp away. It's sort of like hot pot but without a live heat source under the bowl.

All mixed together

I thought the concept was novel and interesting but moreover, the resultant noodle soup is delicious. Since it was my first and only time trying this dish, I didn't muck around and chucked every single component in. It turned out good! I looked around to see if anyone could finish the entire bowl of soup. Apparently that's a feat not even locals can manage.

Rose petal pastry

Kunming is known as the Spring City because of its year round pleasant weather. I can attest that while we were there, the weather was warm and the sun was out. The mild climate means that all sorts of vegetation, in particular flowers grow abundantly in Kunming. We tried a rose petal filled pastry. It was nice and different but I've never been a fan of floral flavours in food.

At the end of this post I'll plonk a couple of photos of dishes we tasted in Kunming. I think they're local albeit maybe not iconic local dishes but we enjoyed them all the same.

Steamed glutinous rice and pork belly

Lilly root and beans

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