• 中文
  • Home > Travel > Cultural Folkways

    Dieting of Miao ethnic group

    2023-02-22 19:00Source:http://www.huaihua.gov.cn

    The rice is the staple food of Mayang folk, with two meals a day, and one more meal for farming seasons or entertaining guests. For the lunch is an extra meal, it is customarily called “Dim Sum”. In fact, it is no different from the usual meal, even more sumptuous. The sour and spicy food are much favored and the wine is very popular among the Miao people. As the saying goes, “A meal with no sour food will cause one to drowse the whole day”; “A meal with no spicy food will make one struggle faintly to his knees”; “No wine, no feast”. The Mayang dieting vary with  seasons, with a range of delicacies ranging from the coarse to the refined.

    February Fools’ Feast    On the fifth day after the beginning of spring (around the 20th day of the second lunar month) in Mayang, every household uses artemisia and wild onions as seasonings, mixed with glutinous rice to prepare “Fools’ Feast”, with paper money burned and sacrifices offered to the God of the Earth. The feast is finely crafted. Ingredients need to be prepared by collecting wild and tender artemisia annua, washed clean with mountain springs, chopped and pinched dry off from bitter water, and stirred fry in a pot until slightly dry. Wild onions are to be ready, washed and dried. Garlic seedlings are available from the garden, washed and dried too. Cured meat is taken to be calcinated and washed clean. Japonica rice and glutinous rice (3:7) are soaked in cold water for a day and a night, and dripped dry. Subsequently it is produced by the finely cut cured-meat stirred with the artemisia annua until fragrant, then added with finely chopped garlic and wild onion, and an appropriate amount of salt. It can be coddled or steamed. For coddling, after water getting boiled, Japonica rice is added first, and glutinous rice next, until half cooked, with the rice soup squeezed out, mixing artemisia annua and simmered mildly. For steaming, rice grains and artemisia annua are to be mixed well before they are steamed. The February Fools’ Feast has a complete range of colors, aromas, and flavors, especially the rice crust is crispy and delicious. Although slightly bitter and pungent, it helps to clear meridians and collaterals, and eliminate stasis to relieve pain.

    Mayang Rice Cakes    Rice cakes are very popular in Mayang in festivals. During the Chinese New Year, people enjoy the Ciba Cake and Box-Printing Cake, and during regular holidays, prefer Artemisia Annua Cake and glutinous rice dumpling (foremost the Dragon Boat Festival).

    Ciba Rice Cake    Mainly with glutinous rice, the Ciba Rice Cake mixes an appropriate amount of japonica rice, soaked, drained, and steamed before being hammered into a ball in a rectangular wooden or circular stone trough. The small balls are squeezed out and flattened into a round cake. NianBa Cake is coated with yellow wax mixed with water to prevent adhesion on the utensils. Generally, during the Dragon Boat Festival and Double Ninth Day, the Ciba Cake is coated with soybean powder. Nianba Cakes are often produced into a “giant goddess of cake”, weighing several pounds or even more, used by couples to pay New Year’s greetings to their parents-in-law.

    Box-Printing Rice Cake    Japonica rice mix with a proper amount of glutinous rice, soaked and drained, and then ground into rice powders with a pestle or mill. About 1/3 of rice powders are put into a pot, mixed with water, and stirred into the shape of congee. Then the rice paste is scooped up into a utensil, kneaded into a hard ball, squeezed into a special “printing box” made of a small half-round wood (inside with two hemispherical recesses, engraved with flowers, birds, insects, fish, or double happiness, and longevity patterns), with the front flattened, and the back hemispherical pattern protruded. Eventually, it is served after steaming.

    Artemisia Annua Cake     Japonica rice is added with a proper amount of glutinous rice, dipped in water, rinsed and drained before being ground into rice powders with a hammer or mill. About 1/3 of rice powders are put into a pot, added with water and chopped artemisia, and stirred into a Congee shape. Then the rice paste is scooped up into a utensil, mixed with rice powders, or with raw rice powders and water, mixed with chopped and boiled artemisia, and kneaded into a hard ball. It is squeezed and pinched into a nest, and wrapped with sesame powder or soybean powder, pickled vegetables, meat dishes as stuffing, and moved into a flat ball shape. It is wrapped with tea leaves or bamboo leaves before being well-steamed. Mostly it is wrapped in tung tree leaves, hence the name “tung leaves cake”, which is a unique flavor of Mayang.

    The delicacy of glutinous rice cake, the fragrance of Artemisia Annua Cake, and the festive atmosphere of printed box cake lead to endless aftertastes. Mayang cake is also a “Dim Sum” commonly used by farmers who go up and down the mountain during the busy seasons. The dried cake, either steamed, fried or barbecued, has a different taste. Especially during the plowing season, the leftover Chinese New Year glutinous rice cake mixed with red beans is fried and pressed into a ball, known as “bean cake”, which is often made and consumed during the “carrying rice manure” season. It promotes our recollection of the pleasant flavour.

    Pickled Pork and Fish     The fresh meat and fish are washed clean and mixed with rice (mostly glutinous rice) powder, salt and spices, preserved in the crocks and sealed up for half a month. When it is slightly sour, they are taken out to be sautéd or fried. Fresh and delicious, they are widely served to entertain guests in Miao families.

    Pickled Allium Chinense     Allium chinense is scattered everywhere on the slopes and ridges in the hilly areas of Mayang. The stems and leaves of allium chinense can be used as vegetables and medicine. It is warm in nature and bitter and pungent in taste, functioning to promote unblocking meridians, activating collaterals, and dispersing nodules. It is mainly used for treating chest pain, diarrhea, and other diseases. The pickled allium chinense is simple to produce: wash the newly collected allium chinense, dry and cut it into small pieces, put it into a crock, sealed tightly and stuffed with straw, tung leaves, or palm leaves, and covered with water. The pickled allium chinense is bright yellow with pungent aroma. It tastes better if fried with green peppers. If served as soup, it is refreshing.

    Grinding-Bowled Dish     The grinding bowl engraved in stone is popular among mountainous villagers. It is usually taken to grind the peppers with coriander, or pickled Chinese cabbage, Zingiber strioatum, bamboo shoots, soaked Chinese toon sprouts, etc., sprinkled with salt and pepper powder, then crushed with stone mallets and eaten raw with rice. Due to its simple approach, time saving, and excellent taste, it has been widely enjoyed up to now.

    Preserved Ham     The Preserved Ham is Chinese bacon, time-honored among Miao people in Mayang. It is made of free-range pigs, which have been kept outside for food since they are piglets. They often lope free across mountains and hills, obviously with wild nature and quick response, totally resembling boars. As the saying goes, “Pigs run faster than dogs, which is a legend for all.” As for the Preserved Ham, it is prepared through smoking over firewood, thus appearing bright red stripes in the cured meat. It is more lean and less fat, and the fat is not greasy, contributing to one of green foods.

    Wine-Brewing     The custom of brewing wine among the ancestors of Mayang has a long history. According to Tso Chuen (722-454 B.C.), the State of Qi attacked the State of Chu due to no sacrifices offered, “Baomao Wine”, for instance, which was accounted by men of letters during the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722). The Baomao Wine, indicating the top brewing technique, becomes quite popular in Mayang. The wine with no adulterating but rough filtering is most favored. It is often served to entertain guests, for “No wine, no feast.”

    Jinjiang Wine    Hunan Jinjiang Winery was founded in 1956 and is located in the eastern part of Mayang County. The site is surrounded by mountains and the spring water, as a unique place for high-quality wine. There are over 20 varieties, including the Jinjiang Spring series and the high-end boutique of Jinjiang Crest, contributing to one of the key brewing enterprises in Hunan Province. Jinjiang Wine, commonly known as “Mayang Water”, is made from high-quality sorghum as raw material, and wheat selected for koji making, brewed with spring water based on Miao people’s traditional techniques and modern scientific technology. The liquor is crystal, with a strong cellar aroma, a soft and sweet taste, and an ever-lasting aftertaste. In 1979, it was ranked one of the four major local famous wines in Hunan Province. Since 1980, it has been a high-quality product in quality evaluations of Daqu liquor in Hunan. In 1994, it won the gold medal at the China Food Expo and the 5th Asia Pacific International Expo. In 1996, it was hailed as a famous brand and the most beloved Hunan liquor among consumers in Hunan Province. In 1997, the brand of “Jinjiang Wine” was awarded the famous trademark of Hunan Province. Jinjiang Wine series are exported to provinces and cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi’an, and Yinchuan. Since 1999, it has been granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China as one of the banquet liquors for embassies and consulates stationed in 28 countries and regions such as Russia and the United States, and has won the prestige from revolutionary predecessors such as Wang Guangying, Wang Shoudao, Li Desheng, and Wu Xiuquan.

    Wild Cherry Wine     Mayang home-brewed rice wine is made from plants koji, with a low alcohol and a long-lasting aroma. Every September in the lunar calendar, especially on the Double Ninth Day, people brew the wine by collecting the wild cherries. After the brewing at the end of October and the beginning of the November in the lunar calendar, the rinsed wild cherries are soaked in a crock, sealed and preserved until New Year’s Day. Thus the wine turns dark red, thick and mushy, sweet and delicious.

    Sweet Wine     Brewed mainly from glutinous rice, the Sweet Wine is assumed as a symbol of good fortune by the Miao people in Mayang. On any happy occasions, it is customary to brew a crock of Sweet Wine. When brewing, four red peppers are often added to the raw materials, meaning prosperity and a happy life throughout the seasons. A pair of chopsticks are inserted in the center, meaning double happiness and good luck in everything. For the new birth of a baby, the host always prepares a bowl of Sweet Wine, waiting for the first one to luckily “step into the door”, who would offer some best blesses as reward. For daily guests, the Sweet Wine is served before a meal. On hot days, the Sweet Wine is soaked in refreshing spring water as to be refreshing. And during the cold seasons, the wine is boiled on a tripod or stove, mixed with eggs, thus rendering a hot and sweet taste.

    (Translated by Tian Xia)