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Beijing Snacks that Are Disappearing

28 January 2008

It is said that in the old days there were three things made a Beijingnese proud of his city: hutong (narrow laneways between siheyuans 四合院 - courtyard residences), Beijing Opera and Beijing Snacks. By then majority of the Beijing residents lived in hutongs with the sound of the Beijing Opera circulating in siheyuans, while the number of snacks amounted to over a hundred.

In today's Chinese capital, the list of the snacks is getting longer, with the new taste imported in from all over the world, but the traditional delicacies are fast disappearing. Here are some snacks used to be very popular but now considered by some Beijing Netizens as "endangered snacks".

Rose Pie 玫瑰饼

Each year during lunar April (around May), roses blossom all over Beijing, and in the old days it was the time for the locals to collect the flowers to make rose flavoured pies. A typical rose pie in Beijing style is white in colour, sweet in taste, crispy to bite and scented with rosy fragrance.

Water Melon Cream 西瓜酪

It was one of the most popular summer snacks in the Chinese capital. During those hot, dry days of Beijing summer, housewives would heat agar until fully melted, add water melon juice and caster sugar, and mix well. They then would wait for the cream to freeze, and cut it into small pieces, place in a bowl, top with more caster sugar, and serve to family members and guests. Imaging how refreshingly cool it would be!

Steamed Rice Cake

This delicacy is made of rice flour, sesame and sugar, then steamed in a timber steamer. It used to be one of the most popular snacks among children in Beijing.

Elm Cake

This case is made of fruits of elm tree, mixed with flour then steamed over high heat. Apart from having a stimulating taste, it's also visually appealing.

Ice Bowl

It is a traditional summer food passionately loved by kids in Beijing. A watery snack mixed with almonds, walnuts, lotus roots, lotus seeds, lotus leafs and water chestnuts, ice bowl used to be one of the products frequently peddled along the hutongs by street vendors.

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