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Slideshow: The Many Faces of China

The arc of our travel experience is shaped by the people we meet. Even the most beautiful food and landscape need a human context. With that in mind, we offer a selection of faces – each with a story – that we will recall whenever we reflect on our travels in China.

The following slideshow is our take on China's ethnic diversity. While these images represent only a fraction of China's 56 official ethnic groups (there are scores more unofficial ones), we hope they give you a better feel for the various people who call China their home.

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A Chinese Food Grab Bag

To close our Chinese food series, we share a few miscellaneous bits, bites and highlights that we just couldn’t shoehorn into the previous segments. We remember fondly the Chinese dining experience: refrigerator cases full of greens, skyscraper piles of tofu, the flash fry technique, earthy-brown soy and sesame oil chili pepper sauces, and copious condiments.

The Chinese consider the number eight lucky. We can all use a little luck, so we limit our list accordingly.

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Sichuan Cuisine

While Sichuan food is available around the world, Sichuan dishes take on an almost electric quality – in both color and flavor – when served in China. Here’s a sample of our favorite Sichuan meals from our travels through the Sichuan Region of China.

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Guizhou, China: Ethnic Markets and Villages

A checklist: four days, three ethnic village markets, stacks of smoked dogs, and one testicle stand. Guizhou Province exuded tradition; it was China at its most authentic and at times its most eye-popping.

We paid a visit to the province, described in guidebooks as one of China's most underdeveloped, to experience a group of ethnic village markets clustered around the town of Kaili. Although the timing of our visit did not coincide with any ethnic festivals (the standard draw for the relatively few tourists that visit the region), there was no shortage of everyday market pageantry and visual stimulation.

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Top 10 Chinese Dumplings

Steamed, fried or boiled; round, crescent, or amorphous; meat or veg; thin-skinned or thick, dumplings in China form a universe all their own.

By no means are we experts in Chinese dumplings. That's a life's work. But we can offer a brief primer and the best of our dumpling experiences in China.

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Top 10 Xinjiang Dishes

We begin our Chinese food series in the same place we entered China: in the city of Kashgar in China's western frontier province of Xinjiang. Like the native Uighur people and their culture, food in Xinjiang province resembles Central Asian and Turkic cuisine more than stereotypical Chinese food.

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