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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Xishuangbanna: China’s Deep South

Two days of roller-coaster travel on unpaved roads and in old buses cramped with members of the Chinese Olympic Spitting Team. It was a long road to Xishuangbanna.

Chinese Girl Deep in Thought
Deep in thought. Xishuangbanna, Yunnan.

Tucked in the deep south of China's Yunnan Province, the Xishuangbanna region conjured images of thatched huts, tropical jungle, and a rainbow of ethnic minorities. But when we arrived in Jinghong, the regional capital, our hearts sank. We got the impression that we had arrived too late.

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Demystifying Food in China: An Introduction

When we talk to people about our travels in China, we sense their fear.

No, not political or economic fear:

Didn’t you have trouble with the language? How about the food? Chinese food in China is terrible, isn’t it? Don’t they eat a lot of dog?”

All fair questions and sentiments, particularly if you've never been to China. We have a real story to tell about food in China. Armed with frighteningly limited Mandarin language skills and a sincere disinterest in dining on dog or innards, we managed to eat like kings on a pauper’s pence during the three months we traveled across China.

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Why Pandas Need Air Conditioning

Panda Eats Bamboo
Pandas munching on bamboo at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center.

In zoos all over the world, crowds battle to catch a peek of one of the world’s most recognizable and rarest animals, the giant panda. During our visit to the Chendgu Panda Breeding Research Center, tourists were so few that the pandas actually invited us to join them and granted us an interview. Here’s what Jing-Jing, their spokesperson, had to say:

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Chendgu: China Begins Here

Friendly people, delicious food, green parks, active temples – even pandas. Why Chendgu doesn’t get more coverage in the tourist press, we don’t know. It quickly became our favorite big city (population over 10 million) in China.

Although Chengdu is not stocked with high-profile tourist sights like Beijing and Xi’an, to quote another tourist: “There’s something that just feels right about the place.

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