With the advent of autumn, it is quite crisp in the morning. Needless to say, warm food like hot soybean milk, hot baked wheaten cake, tofu jelly, fried tofu soup and deep-fried dough cake with brown sugar stands to gain your heart. Go out and enjoy the crisp clear autumn days! Just “eat the autumn”!
At the mention of “eating seasonal food in autumn”, it is impossible to miss quick-fried tripe. There are four kinds of quick-fried ox tripe including smooth tripe, bottom of reticulum, leaf tripe and bottom of leaf tripe and nine kinds of quick-fried goat tripe including smooth tripe, omasum, ridge beam on the first stomach, bottom of the reticulorumen, shredded tripe, rumen, esophagus, reticulorumen and reticulum. Among them, smooth tripe is most expensive. Yet, for this delicacy, the bull’s eye is not the price, but the mouthfeel when it is done to a turn.
If you are a meat eater, grilled meat will definitely mesmerize your taste buds. Just imagine - you and your friends sit around a grill, the meat sizzling and the fitful meat smell exciting the nose. Such a joy it is! Speaking of “iron-rod” grill, it is quite necessary to perfectly space out these iron rods to ensure the proper barbecue effect. Thus, roasted meat cannot compete with grilled meat. Maybe you think of grilled meat only in terms of sliced meat and coriander. Yet, actually, every link entails special attention. Following the lifestyle of Chinese ancient literati, Beijingers prefer tucking into meat and wine together. It is all the more so at the time of late autumn and bitter winter. When feasting on delicious barbecued meat, you will find yourself sweat profusely and contentedly.
Although Beijing is not a waterside or coastal city, crab is a must-eat for Beijingers in autumn. Back then, Beijing was ever home to hairy crabs. By tradition, Beijingers of that time used to eat their fill of crabs while getting an eyeful of chrysanthemum in autumn. With autumn well underway, it is getting colder and daytime shorter. Hence, there is no longer sight of noisy crowds who go out at night to enjoy the cool like summer days, but fast-moving passers-by who are in a hurry to return home, thinking what food is easy to cook for dinner. In terms of easiness, crab certainly ranks high on the “Most Easily-cooked Dinner List.”
Generation after generation of Beijingers is keen on noodles. No matter the season, noodles are a must-eat for them with a wide option of toppings. In the past, former generations were most particular about two points - diverse seasonal side dishes and tasty toppings. On normal days, noodles are most convenient. With the arrival of cool autumn days, noodles with soybean paste and noodles with gravy are best choices. Topped with sliced meat, egg, day lily, agaric and mushroom, the noodles are tasty and mouthwatering.
If you are willing to take the trouble to cook food, you can bake pie at home. With an infinite selection for stuffing, there is always one to your taste. And the sizzling sound and tantalizing smell will make your mouth water.
The stewed meat would recall the happy days of Beijinger’s childhood. Once one household stews meat, the meat smell will fill the whole hutong.
Before stewing meat, Beijingers will choose a chunk of fresh marbled meat, clean it, cut it into cubes, put them in the pot together with green onion, ginger, garlic, Sichuan pepper, aniseed, spices, soybean paste and salt, and stew them over a slow fire.
In addition to stewed meat, stewed fish is another must-eat for Beijingers in autumn. Once one household stews fish, the fish smell will fill the whole hutong. As to fish, stewed fish is Beijingers’ favorite. Before stewing the fish in the pan, they will fry it. At the moment, the smell is really
tantalizing and even more when the fried fish is stewed in the pan.
On the Mid-Autumn Festival, the old generation of Beijingers always buy “Zilaihong” and “Zilaibai” (traditional Beijing-style moon cakes). Zilaihong features wrapper made from sesame oil and flour and stuffing made from white sugar, rock sugar, crushed rock sugar, shredded orange peel and turnip, walnut, melon seed and such. With crispy wrappers and delicious stuffing, it is sweet, delectable and dangerously addicted.
Beijingers are fond of seasonal food, for example, eating beans in autumn. As August or September ends, kidney bean, peanut, pea and soybean will ripe and people will have more choices. In addition, these beans are easy to cook. Put fresh beans in the pan together with Sichuan pepper, spices and salt and boil them. In particular, spiced peanuts are a must-have side dish to go with liquor.
When mentioned seasonal food in autumn, diverse kinds of fruits cannot be missed. Mr. Lao She, a famous Chinese novelist and dramatist, ever wrote about that, “Speaking of food, apple, pear, persimmon, jujube and grape all are diverse in kind - all kinds of grapes, pears and apples with good looks, delectable smells or delicious tastes. Better yet, there is also Beiping’s unique gourd-shaped jujube combining good looks, delectable smells and delicious tastes...” Back then, those children who had a jujube tree in their courtyards were happiest and the joy of thrashing jujubes down would be remembered at heart for lifetime.
With the advent of autumn, Beijing’s streets are filled with the delectable smells of autumn chestnuts. Having been stir-fried, those chestnuts crack easily, as if smiling broadly. So, Beijing in autumn is nothing less than an earthly paradise. When you feast on gastronomic delights and good wine and eat your fill of pastries and fruits, you may feel this city is more amazing than paradise.
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