The first international event hosted by Slow Food Great China was dedicated to biodiversity and featured not only new Chinese nominations to the Ark of Taste, but a display of Ark of Taste and Presidia products from around the world. In addition, a delegation of international Slow Food representatives presented our organization’s core projects and themes, from food waste and Slow Meat to the Presidia and 10,000 Gardens in Africa to an auditorium filled with Chinese farmers, students and journalists. For the opening of the biodiversity exhibit, international and Chinese visitors alike filled Slow Food’s display area of Beijing’s Free Trade Zone to get a closer look at these latest additions to our international catalog of agrobiodiversity.
So what was on display? Here are just a few of the latest additions to the Ark of Taste from all around China:
Hakka Handmade Rice Wine
Hakka handmade rice wine is made during winters in Fujian Provence via a twelve-step process, using the same brewing tools as during the Ming and Qing Dynasties and according to a brewing method handed down through generations. This beverage has an amber color, a strong, pleasant scent and a mellow, sweet flavor. In Zhixi Village it is the drink of choice for any celebratory occasion, but it is gradually being replaced by large-scale commercially made wines and beers.
Yam and Date Rolls
Chinese Muslim cuisine makes up an important part of China’s gastronomic culture, and yam and date roles are one example of a typical sweet from this diverse category of Chinese foods. Red dates, Chinese yam, sweet potato and white potato are mixed in a sugar syrup and stuffed into rolls, which are then steamed and fried. The production of this pastry is typically handed down within families, but with fewer young people continuing the tradition, the future of this sweet is uncertain.
Wurme is a traditional product from the region of Inner Mongolia, and its production has been documented as far back as the 6th century. It is produced when fresh goat or cow’s milk is lightly cooked until a skin forms on top. This skin is removed with chopsticks and hung to dry. Because it should be made from milk with a high butterfat content, it is generally only made on a small-scale in autumn and winter months.
Dong’e Donkey Hide Gelatin Sweets
In the village of Dong’e in Shandong Province, jelly-like sweets are made from donkey-hide gelatin that is mixed with yellow wine, sugar, lily root flour, dates, wolfberries, walnuts and black sesame seeds. These sweets contain a high amount of amino acids, but the natural, artisanal varieties are being pushed out of the market by cheaper, questionably produced versions.
Yanbian Yellow Cattle
One of China’s local cattle breeds, the Yanbian Yellow has a history dating back over 200 years, and this breed was formally recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1960s. Recently, however, with the rapid advancement of the real estate industry, the farmland and forest land grazing areas in northeast China are being reduced, leaving farmers of the Yanbian Yellow cattle with less and less land.