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Yunnan cross bridge rice noodles 过桥米线

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laurenth

Have a nice trip back abcdefg. Your posts are always a joy to read, full of interesting information and true-to-life details - not to mention that they always make me dreadfully hungry.

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lips

Another great post.

 

Brings back memories of my first trip to Kunming, walking around all by myself, looking for a place to eat.  I came across this 过桥米线 place, which looked small from the outside.  There were four set of prices for each dish.  For the lowest price, you sat at tables set on the sidewalk outside the shop.  Pay a little more, and you got to sit at a table just inside the store.  I chose the next higher tier, which entitled me to sit in a big hall inside, with live dance and music entertainment.  The most expensive prices were for those in the private dining rooms behind closed doors.  What other services could they enjoy I do not know.  The noodles were served plain.  You ordered the other ingredients separately and they were served on small plates.  Two of the delicacies I tried that day were dried worm and grasshoppers. Quite tasty after dipping in the spicy broth.

 

I haven't been back for quite a few years.  Do noodle places like this still exist today?

 

Hope you get to go back and enjoy life there for many more years to come.  I am sure the locals learn from you and enjoy your presence even more than you from them.

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Shelley

Excellent as usual, thanks for all the pictures and the information.

 

It looks a bit like a variation on hotpot in as much as you cook things at your table.

 

The first picture of the brown bowl with hat looks interesting, has it got a hole in the middle? What's it for?

 

Have a safe trip back to Texas, will you be there for long?, will we have to wait ages for more chinese food delights form you?

 

The waitress's sashes look like they are some kind of amazing embroidery, is it?

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abcdefg

Thanks, Shelley. The waitress' sash is indeed traditional hand embroidery. Market days in Hani country (south Yunnan) offer a fabulous assortment of textiles. It's one of their glories. They are also renowned for their rice terrace engineering, with their crowning achievement being the famous high mountain fields of Yuanyang 元阳。(Photos not mine.)

 

post-20301-0-63931900-1474466924_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-12108600-1474466949_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-75282600-1474467046_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-24506800-1474467063_thumb.jpg

 

You're right, hotpot is made over a burner at the table, whereas in this dish the items to be added are sliced very thin and cooked by contact with the hot soup itself. Some cross bridge rice noodle restaurants tell you to be sure and put the items in one at a time, starting with the raw meats first.

 

I particularly like the long thin yellow flower petals, which I think are a type of chrysanthemum. (Far right in the first snapshot below.)

 

post-20301-0-31404900-1474467398_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-06914800-1474504121_thumb.jpg

 

The hole in the middle of the steamed chicken soup pot 气锅鸡 lets steam heat enter the cooking bowl. This dish is cooked over steam, not over flames. A tight lid is used. As the soup slowly simmers over the course of many hours, it condenses on the inside of the lid and returns to the bowl. Thus it keeps getting more concentrated and thoroughly infused with special herbs, roots, berries and seeds. The combination is considered medicinal.

 

Since the bowl is porous clay, very similar to the material from which Pu'er teapots are made, its flavor also gets progressively complex and refined. Winds up being flavorful but elegant and smooth. Here are a couple of larger illustrations that make it easier to visualize. (Photos not mine.)

 

post-20301-0-43402300-1474467714_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-87495800-1474467730_thumb.jpg

 

What they actually do is stack lots of these clay bowls on top of each other in a staggered array inside a large stoneware vat 坛子 almost 2 meters tall and let them cook over low steam heat half a day or so. Takes lots of practice to get it just right. It's another of those things that I haven't tried to tackle at home.

 

Even though this restaurant makes small individual servings of 气锅鸡, other places also offer larger bowls that feed several diners. Chinese love soup and usually have it with all meals except breakfast. At this time of year, it's common to add mushrooms and even roast chestnuts to the chicken pot.

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Shelley

That helps a lot, I now understand about the bowl.

 

Those terraces are absolutely amazing.

 

The first picture looks like a Cezanne painting, almost hard to believe is actually real.

 

Thank you again.

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abcdefg

Those terraces are indeed amazing, Shelley. I've seen them several times and never cease to be bowled over. Most photogenic time to go is coming up soon: late November until early March or so.

 

Rain water is held in high reservoirs and slowly released as needed to trickle down to the terraced fields below. Low mud-wall dikes are carefully maintained to let the water stand and soak into the ground, nourishing the young rice seedlings at one level, then it is released to enter a slightly lower field. They do this over and over, during the growing season, managing moisture levels with great skill.

 

No modern machinery can be used because the system of dykes is too fragile. All labor must be done by hardy humans with strong backs and the occasional water buffalo, slowly slogging along pulling a single-tooth plow after the Autumn harvest.

 

I recall that on several visits, I would find locals here and there, just sitting on a spread out ground cloth high up on a hill, smoking a tall Yunnan water pipe and gazing around, admiring the scene below. Not reading a book or listening to music. Simply enjoying the visual feast. Apparently, they never tire of it. (Photos not mine.)

 

post-20301-0-80963700-1474502262_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-77986500-1474502270_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-50386600-1474502277_thumb.jpg

 

For the most part these terraced fields are located high in the Ailao Mountains 哀牢山 up to about 3,000 meters elevation. This mountain range cuts across southern Yunnan's Honghe Prefecture 红河州 and where the slope is too steep for rice, they plant tea bushes. In the fertile valleys they grow a particularly rich variety of sugar cane, interspersed with stands of high-grade tobacco. 

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vellocet

LOL!  Yunnan was the first place I saw people hitting the bong but they were actually smoking tobacco.  Up until that point I had always assumed that smoking tobacco out of a bong was some legal fiction that allowed head shops to stay in business.  

 

Are you really that old?  I thought that work visas ended on your 60th year.  China doesn't have the extensive health care necessary for older foreigners, and they don't want to be responsible when foreigners start dropping off.  

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abcdefg

Most smaller and medium Kunming restaurants have a few of these water pipes for public use so guests can enjoy an after-meal smoke. People seldom carry them around.

 

Yes, I'm old. Am here on a tourist visa, and not working. Must leave and re-enter every 60 days.

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Alex_Hart

Excellent posts, abcd! Looks delicious! Makes me all the more ready to trek on down to Yunnan. Also love the stories you include with your posts!

 

Interested in those yellow flowers - looks like something I definitely need to try if I get down there.

 

How long will you be in the states?

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abcdefg

Thanks, Alex_Hart. I should be back in Kunming late December. If you get down that way for a visit, be sure to let me know. I promise to show you through the market.

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