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Beijing Local Delicacies

by: Song Weizhong; Wang Jiaya; and Zhou Shuo

Beijing China: China Pictorial Publishing House 2008, Paperback
ISBN: 7-80220-06404

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2008 Issue: 15(4) page(s): 23 and 24

Four chapters with legendary snacks of old Beijing, and three other food category ones including non-staple foods, pastries, and fruit and beverages preceed the Appendix of time-honored restaurant snacks. They are as delightful as can be, as are the color photographs listed as by: Lu Xiao, et al.

The early Beijing snack chapter discusses Han, Imperial, and Islamic goodies and the dynasties of their popularity in somewhat of a general sense. The Islamic ones concentrate on those of the Hui. Imperial ones span several dynasties and several areas of the city, as well as several eateries large and small.

In the second chapter, roast duck, barbecue, instant boiled mutton, boiled sheep's head, pig entrails, tripe, and liver are among the many delights. There are also items about casserole pork, spiced beef and mutton, mustard cabbage, and stir-fried mung beans, among others.

Pastries in Chapter Four include those with bean and pea flours, sticky rice with multiple fillings, kidney bean rolls, reds and whites for the Moon festival, dough twists, and a sugar-rolled dessert that can compete with the best of Pennsylvania Dutch sticky buns. There are also unusual snacks such as one called: Doornail Meat Pies and an item on the street that translates to Toad-splitting Honey.

The appendix discusses all-told, twenty well-known Beijing restaurants and their foods and Beijing snacks. They and items before them make the book a gem; its information detailed. However, it does miss an important inclusion, and when it is revised, do hope they include how to make many if not all of them. Unfortunately, there is not a single recipe; reason enough to do a revision, and soon!

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