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Luoyang Delicacies

2012-09-10 11:20:07      Web Editor: Duan

Luoyang Delicacies

Luoyang Water Feast (Luoyang Shui Xi)
Introduction: The Water Feast is a specialty of Luoyang, where the local dry climate has led many locals to make soup part of their daily diet. Local people regularly make different soups using starch, locally grown vegetables, yam, radish and cabbage. Cooking staple foodstuffs along with vegetables as part of a soup has gradually been developed into a poplar practice ranging from commons folk to royal families. The gradually-formed flavor is both refreshingly sour and spicy, making the Water Feast a typical famed dish of Luoyang.

The Water Feast has two specific characteristics: firstly, all of the dishes are soups; hence the title Water Feast. Secondly, a new dish will be presented one after another, and the process continues in this manner just as water flows continuously in a river. A total of 24 dishes, including eight cold dishes and 16 hot dishes, that combine chicken, duck, fish and other meats as well as vegetables, provide an abundance of flavors including sweet, salty, sour and spicy sensations. All of the ingredients are shredded, sliced, stripped, cubed or diced before they are cooked in the various broths.

A Taste of the Water Feast

Eight Cold Appetizers
The Water Feast starts with eight cold appetizers; four contain meat and the other four are vegetable dishes. Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Zetian made the feast a royal delicacy, as the eight cold dishes were used to present a flower-and-bird pattern thanks to their fresh colors and specially-exquisite designs.

Four Main Courses

Of the four main course dishes, the Peony Yancai, made in the appearance of a Bird's Nest, comes first. This is followed by Shallots with Tiger Carp. Carp raised in the Mengjin floodplain of the Yellow River is used to make this dish, which has the appearance as if the fish is ready to open its mouth, raise its head; ready to swoop upwards. The third dish is meat covered in spiced, preserved bean curd. The final dish is Dried Shrimps with Cabbage, which has a homophonic name in Chinese that is used in order to inspire luck and happiness.

Eight Large Dishes
The eight large dishes come in two stages. The first five dishes include Kuai San Yang, Fish with five shredded ingredients, Stir-Fried Sliced Fish, Chicken Cubes and Fried Crane meat. The following three dishes compose of Eight Delicacy Rice, Hot candied fruit and sweet and sour pork.

Last Four Dishes
The last four dishes contain fish fin decorated with flowers, cuttlefish, and meat balls. In Chinese, the pronunciation of the word for meat balls is similar to that for the word which means ending; hence they are the final dish of the feast. Legend has it that meat balls were the last dish that Empress Wu ate prior to becoming ill. Wu sighed after the meat ball dish as if realizing all the mistakes she had made.

Legend of the Water Feast
According to legend, Yuan Tiangang, an astrologist who lived in the early Tang dynasty, predicted that Wu Zetian would become empress after observing the stars. Considering that heaven's secrets must not be disclosed, Yuan designed this feast to indicate Empress Wu's destiny which would enfold over the following 24 years.

Each dish hinted at Wu's natural success. 8 cold appetizers came first as part of the Luoyang Water Feast. Then the four main course dishes were served, followed by the eight large dishes.

These were all topped off with the last four dishes. These 24 dishes in total corresponded with the 24 years, from the first year of the Yonglong reign of Tang Dynasty Emperor Gaozong, covering the period when Wu Zetian came to power, through to the first year of the Shenlong reign when Empress Wu died of an illness in the Shangyang Palace of Luoyang.

Characteristics of the Water Feast
The Water Feast contains meat and vegetables. Vegetables can be cooked to compliment the flavor of the meat. Many ingredients are used, including meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. People who pay for the banquets can decide upon the specifics of the banquet according to their financial condition.
Secondly, the Water Feast contains many soup dishes, providing various flavors and enhancing the diner's culinary experience. Thirdly, there are strict rules regarding the order of serving.

There are generally three levels of feast; high, mid and low levels. People are able to make a choice based on their individual situation, hence why the Water Feast has enjoyed such popularity among both urban and rural people for a long period of time.

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