The Silk Road: all the food you’ll find along the route, both now and then

They say to save the best for last — and I’ll be the first to say that the food along the Silk Road was the best — so here’s the final post of the Silk Road series: FOOD!

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xi’an’s famous biang biang noodles

Back in Xi’an, there was a restaurant that specialized in dumplings…over three hundred types of dumplings, in all shapes, colors, sizes! Of course, it’d be impossible to try every single one of them, but we did manage to try eight different types; though they all look different, most tasted more or less the same.

Driving through Gansu, we passed Melon City, a city known for, well, melons. From honeydews to watermelons to canaries, they had every single type of melon (and other fruits) imaginable. Additionally, they’d use these melons to make dried fruit slices by drying them out in the sun. The longer they dry, the sweeter they get.

As I mentioned in one of the previous posts, many residents in the Xinjiang region (and even back in Qinghai and Gansu) belong to different ethnicities, such as Hui or Uyghur. Therefore, some of the communities here are predominately Muslim and the food consists largely of lamb. Lamb kebabs (bite-sized bits of lamb skewered on a stick) are my personal favorite, though it should be noted that if you eat too much, you might get a nosebleed (seriously…my nose bled for six days straight after eating lamb day and night). To counter this, the natives have found that by eating yogurt (homemade, too), you can cool down your body and not get daily nosebleeds (like I did). Another famous dish is called “Rice eaten with hands,” though it’s actually not nowadays. It’s similar to fried rice with pieces of lamb on scattered on top.

Many places in China, including the places I visited this time, have night markets. Basically, it’s one or two streets filled with vendors selling really cheap food (and some trinkets…some night markets also sell clothes, shoes, etc.) that open at around five and close at around midnight. If you’re up for experiencing the real Chinese life, I’d highly suggest you visit a night market — any, really — because it’s the real deal.

Thus concludes my Silk Road adventure, one filled with awe, inspiration and joy for the wonders of the ancient world and the innovations of the modern world. It’s this intersection that makes the Silk Road particularly beautiful (and the food, of course), and makes my last summer before college truly memorable.

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