Thursday, June 26, 2014

Candied Gourd…Most popular traditional Chinese Snack

The word snack is thrown around with ambiguous abandon in China. The word confused my western idea of individually wrapped snacks. Sure, the grocery stores sell gobs of such snacks; but on the street, snacks are a different animal. Fried squid, pineapple quarters, melon quarters, scorpions, cicada are just a few examples. But the most popular, ever-present snack is the oddest candied crabapple-looking fruit stacked on a stick. We bought one once just to see what the attraction was about. I took one bite and gave the rest to John. Looks are deceiving. Nicole's presentation gave us a better description of this ubiquitous snack.

An old man was selling the candied gourd
I'll tell you about a very common snack in our daily life. We see it nearly everywhere on the street. It is red and tastes both sweet and sour. Do you know what it is?

It's candied gourd, a Chinese tradition. I still remember a picture which looks like a small 'tree' laden with fruit. Actually, it was an old man selling candied gourds.

The origin of this snack is from the Song Dynasty. One of the emperor's high-ranked imperial concubines (that's one of his wives) became ill. She didn't feel like eating anything. The doctor in the palace used many expensive medicine, but it didn't work. So the emperor put a notice asking for a doctor who can cure his wife's disease. Several days later, a doctor from the people asked for the emperor. He felt the pulse and then said, "Boil rock candy and hawthorns together and eat it before meals." Later, the imperial concubine really recovered. Since then people knew that hawthorns are good for digestion, and day by day, it gradually became today's popular candied gourd.

Rolling over hawthorns in sugar mixture
If you want to make candied gourd by yourself you should prepare several fresh hawthorns, sugar and a bamboo stick.
Wash the hawthorns first and then pick out the core. Slide 5-7 hawthorns in one bamboo stick. Place sugar in a wok with 3kg water. Heat 20 minutes and stir. Roll hawthorns in sugar mixture.This a general instruction of making candied hawthorns. In practice, however, it's not so easy.

Various candied gourds
Anyway candied gourd is enjoyed by old and young. It can get up one's appetite, allay tiredness and reduce your fever. Since its origin from Beijing, it has become a part of the history of Beijing City. It somehow implies a simple, quiet and historical urban lifestyle of native in Beijing. Nowadays, this CHinese traditional snack is very popular over all our country. What's more, it has developed many varieties. For example, people often put other fruits into it to satisfy different people's appetite. All in all, if you introduce Chinese snacks to anyone, candied gourd is the most representative one.

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