Posts in Chinese History
China Summer Fun
summer_Windchimes.jpg

Summer is just around the corner and if you need some places to think about visiting think about China. This huge continent has so much to offer during the summer months.

Check out some of the reasons and things to do here:

The Weather

From mid-May through mid-July, the rainy season kicks in across southern and eastern China. The rains are nicknamed the plum rains (梅雨 meiyu, or “may yoo” in Mandarin) for the season when the fruit ripens. Frankly, during those weeks, it feels as if nothing can grow but mold. But don’t be downtrodden; bring rain gear and you’ll be fine. Northern China doesn’t have the same precipitation pattern so make your itinerary include Beijing and Xi’an if you’re worried about getting too wet. After the rains end, you’re likely to seek shade from the scorching sun and blue skies that govern the later part of the summer.

There’s a lot to do in the summer months and some great festivals to try to catch as well. The summer months are the perfect time to tour Tibet as the weather is the mildest and most of the festivals take place in July and August. Visit beach cities like Qingdao and Xiamen to catch some rays, or head all the way down to Hainan to really cook on the white sand beaches of the island. If you’re hanging out in any of the big cities, Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai all have great outdoor venues and you’ll find many places to sit in the shade and drink tea - or something stronger - and relax.

 

Summer Activities

Beach: If it’s beach-time you’re after, try one of these destinations for sand and sun:

  • Xiamen, formerly known as Amoy, is a relaxing smallish city directly across from Taiwan that has great beaches, long stretches of the promenade, nice seafood restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere.

  • Qingdao, most famous for its beer, is another smaller Chinese city with famous beaches and plenty of places to soak up the sun.

  • Sanya, a city on Hainan Island in the South China Sea, is the mecca for serious beach-seekers. Full of top international five-star beach resorts, you can take your pick and have a classy beach holiday. (Be sure not to miss the matching his & her Hawaiian outfits available in all the hotel shops...)

Nature: If you’re looking to see some nature and mountain landscapes then these are perfect choices:

  • Tibet enjoys its best weather in summer months and there's not a better time to go in order to catch great festivals.

  • Jiuzhaigou is a famous national park and reserve in Sichuan Province. Many ethnic Tibetans live there so it's culturally interesting but the reason to go is the scenery. Full of pristine forests and clear lakes, if you're coming from a big city you'll be relieved to see that there is some amazing nature left in China.

  • Mount Song & Shaolin Temple is a great destination if you want to combine a little history and religion with your nature walk.

  • Four Buddhist Holy Mountains draw thousands of tourists and climbers every summer. If you're really ambitious, perhaps you could make it to all four?

  • The Great Wall just has no match in China. No, it's not off the beaten path. Yes, you'll probably be there with hundreds of other tourists. But it's famous for a reason. Don't miss it if you're near Beijing.

Green: If you don't have time to head too far out, some Chinese cities have plenty of green, many have gardens which are famous:

  • Visit any Chinese park

  • Suzhou's famous gardens

  • Hangzhou and the West Lake or Moganshan.

  • The Giant Panda Breeding Base in Chengdu offers lots of green bamboo and giant cuddly animals.

Shanghai: In Shanghai, these are great summer activities:

Beijing: And in Beijing, any of these activities are great for summertime.

Summer Festivals

Summer Holidays

Qi Xi, Night of Sevens (Chinese Valentine’s Day) is not an official holiday, but a traditional celebration usually falling in August.

Chinese kids are off from school between early July and the end of August.

Fruit in Chinese Food
mango_chicken.jpg

As I slowly eat my way through the Windchimes Menu I realized that there were a lot of dishes that included an ingredient that typically isn’t part of a main dish: Fruit. I was curious why this was such a staple in Chinese food ranging from Orange, Mango, to even Pineapple. I dug around to see why this was an important ingredient to some of my favorite dishes and here’s what I found:

One way chefs create new dishes is to make use of fruits in season. Doing so produces dishes with new color, texture, and flavor. When fruits are not in season they need not despair, but use them dehydrated. They can and do use fruits such as raisons, dried apricots, sugared preserved fruits such as jams, and even canned and frozen fruits.

In southern cooking, such as that around Guangzhou, chefs make use of local fresh fruits frequently using peaches, lychees and longans. Perhaps because of influences from neighboring south sea islands, they also find and use pineapples, bananas, coconuts, and rambutans. In the mid-Yangtze valley in and around Shanghai, Hwaiyang and Yangzhou, chefs use fresh apples, dates, and pears and their preserved relatives. In the north, around Beijing and Shandung, apples, apricots, pears, persimmons, and dates are popular fresh and dried. And in the west, chefs from the Hunan and Sichuan provinces add fruits to their spicy dishes including oranges, longans, and lychees to satisfy their yen for sweet in their dishes. Occasionally sweet dishes without spiciness are even used departing from the routine flavorings in this region.

Since Chinese do not make clear demarcations between medicinal herbs and fruits or vegetables, in their cooking they also use herbs such as dried san tza which are crab apples or go ji better known as Lyceum Chinese. Both of these herb-fruits have a slight sweet and an acidic taste; people like them because they are good for you and highly nutritious.

So, next time you are in check out some of the dishes that include fruit and think about how great it is to be able to have this dish all year round!

Chinese Food: A Christmas Tradition
chinese-food.png

I was recently was looking over the numbers on Windchimes website and noticed that last month on December 25th there was a large spike in business. I know a lot of America celebrates Christmas on that day and typically spend it with family/friends and home cooked meals. But what if that wasn’t your holiday or you didn’t want to cook? The answer is Chinese food.

This is no surprise. The tradition of going out for Chinese food on Christmas day has been around since 1935 when Jewish American’s were one of the largest non-Christian immigrant groups along with Chinese people. That meant there were new populations that didn’t typically see December 25th as a holiday. While a lot of stores/restaurants were closed many Jewish and Chinese immigrants found something of a shared experience of celebrating who they were together in a safe space.

“Chinese restaurants were safe. There was definitely an era for Jews when they felt insecure about being American and being perceived as foreign, especially since a good, good number of them came from Eastern Europe,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, author of Fortune Cookie Chronicles and producer of the documentary film The Search for General Tso. “They knew at least in Chinese restaurants they wouldn’t be judged about being foreign.”

Today you can find more restaurants open on Christmas this tradition has stuck through and through. It’s even been popularized in movies A Christmas Story. Even though the original film has a few flaws on political correctness the remake of it in 2017 fixed that:

All in all Chinese food is a staple during the holiday season so maybe next year instead of stressing out on what to make why not make a new tradition and go out and celebrate at Windchimes! It’ll be great time!

Mid-Autumn Festival
2880px-Mid-Autumn_Festival-beijing.jpg

Monday was the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated notably by the Chinese and Vietnamese people.

The Chinese have celebrated the harvest during the autumn full moon since the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE). Morris Berkowitz, who studied the Hakka people during the 1960s, theorizes that the harvest celebration originally began with worshiping mountain deities after the harvest was completed. For the Baiyue peoples, the harvest time commemorated the dragon who brought rain for the crops. The celebration as a festival only started to gain popularity during the early Tang dynasty (618–907 CE).One legend explains that Emperor Xuanzong of Tang started to hold formal celebrations in his palace after having explored the Moon-Palace. The term mid-autumn (中秋) first appeared in Rites of Zhou, a written collection of rituals of the Western Zhou dynasty (1046–771 BCE).

Of course there are certain types of food involved.

mooncake-festival-2015.jpg
 

Mooncakes: Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion. Thus, the sharing and eating of round mooncakes among family members during the week of the festival signifies the completeness and unity of families.

Imperial dishes: served on this occasion included nine-jointed lotus roots which symbolize peace, and watermelons cut in the shape of lotus petals which symbolize reunion.

Teacups & Wine: Teacups were placed on stone tables in the garden, where the family would pour tea and chat, waiting for the moment when the full moon's reflection appeared in the center of their cups.Owing to the timing of the plant's blossoms, cassia wine is the traditional choice for the "reunion wine" drunk on the occasion. Also, people will celebrate by eating cassia cakes and candy.

Food offerings: made to deities are placed on an altar set up in the courtyard, including apples, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, melons, oranges, and pomelos.[25]One of the first decorations purchased for the celebration table is a clay statue of the Jade Rabbit.

western_lake_mooncakes.jpg

Nowadays, in southern China, people will also eat some seasonal fruit that may differ in different district but carrying the same meaning of blessing.

The festival celebrates three fundamental concepts that are closely connected:

  • Gathering, such as family and friends coming together, or harvesting crops for the festival. It's said the moon is the brightest and roundest on this day which means family reunion. And this is the main reason why people think mid-autumn is important.

  • Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the harvest, or for harmonious unions

  • Praying (asking for conceptual or material satisfaction), such as for babies, a spouse, beauty, longevity, or for a good future

Traditions and myths surrounding the festival are formed around these concepts, although traditions have changed over time due to changes in technology, science, economy, culture, and religion.