Over the last year, there has been a huge rise in the number of companies offering instant luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn), Liuzhou’s iconic snail noodle dish.
Personally, I don’t think they are a patch on the real thing, but they are proving popular with people who are away from Liuzhou and missing their fix. I know of several mamas sending them to their Liuzhou offspring studying away from home, whether they are elsewhere in China or in Europe or the USA.
Now, the government are getting involved. Liuzhou Food and Drug Administration has announced that mandatory standards are to be introduced in May 1st, 2016 regulating the production of pre-packaged luosifen. The standards are being issued now in order to allow companies to digest the details before the start date and take steps to meet the requirements. Following May 1st, law enforcement officers will carry out inspections and tests to ensure compliance.
Today is one of my favourite days of the year. Everyone else (almost) stays home and I get Liuzhou (almost) all to myself. The second day of the Chinese New Year.
Yesterday was quite busy down town. The parks and squares were packed, but, this morning, I went for a long walk and town was nearly deserted. It reminded me of Liuzhou twenty years ago, when there were few private cars and no e-donkeys cluttering up the side walks. Most shops, usually open around 12 to 13 hours a day (10am until 11pm is common), were closed, apart from those in the Wuxing pedestrian area. Many restaurants are closed – especially the smaller ones which can’t afford to stay open as they have to pay staff enhanced holiday rates. Or so they say.
It came as no surprise to see rows of closed up shops and signs detailing when they’ll be back.
Most will re-open at the weekend.
See you soon!
One thing did concern me, though.
I passed by the fire station on Beizhan Road (北站路), my nearest and the one covering the city centre. It too is closed for the duration!
I must remember not to go on fire during the holiday!
The driver of a Wuling van who, at the end of November, hit and killed a couple in their seventies, on a pedestrian crossing in the south of the city, sparking the campaign to have drivers stop at crossings, has been tried and sentenced.
Tests were carried out and it was discovered that he had been drinking and that his vehicle had defective lights among other safety issues.
The drunken idiot, owner of this dangerous vehicle, was sentenced to a mere three months in prison. It is also reported that he has made a financial settlement with his victims’ family in compensation. No details of this settlement have been released.
Meanwhile, since the end of the campaign, fewer and fewer drivers are now stopping to let pedestrians cross. As soon as the barrage of media reminders ended, drivers mostly went back to their old ways.
Also, some still think crossings are car parks, blissfully unaware that they are forcing pedestrians to cross in less safe ways.
Road safety will never improve unless they properly enforce the rules and dish out real, severe punishment to violators.
Most of my friends have disappeared home to their families, The shops are selling the last of the festive crap they always sell. My neighbours have slaughtered their chicken for tomorrow’s “big dinner”. The fireworks have been readied.
By noon tomorrow, most of the city will start to close down. Bubugao Plaza and some of the larger stores will hang on until 5pm, instead if its usual 11pm. Then there will be a brief period of silence as all the locals tuck into their festive food.
Then mayhem, as the fireworks go off at midnight to frighten away the ghost of this year and make way for the Year of the Monkey.
Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week we are getting stuck.
This may not look like much. That is because it isn’t much.
This is 年糕 or New Year Cake from Liuzhou’s Sanjiang county and people are going to getting stuck into it over the next couple of weeks to celebrate the Year of the Monkey which starts on Monday, 8th February.
The ingredients are glutinous (sticky rice) , white sugar, vegetable oil and water. And that’s it. And that is what they taste like. Rice and sugar.
Slightly more attractive perhaps is this version – until you realise that the red colouring and the eye is all in the packaging
Stripped of its packaging it looks like this.
Still a bit more interesting to look at I suppose, but the same (lack of) taste. The ingredients are very similar, but this one from Wuzhou city gets its yellow hue from corn meal which is mixed with the glutinous rice. I’ve also seen versions using millet.
If you like your teeth falling out, go ahead and get some of either version. Most supermarkets have them on sale for around ¥15 – ¥20 for a 600g cake.
It appears that Liuzhou’s jumpers may have found a new venue for their stunts. For the second time in the past year, someone was apparently threatening to jump from a fifth floor window in the ridiculously large Agricultural Bank HQ on San Zhong Lu (三中路).
When I went out this morning at 11 am, there was a crowd gathered outside the bank looking up at this woman perched on the window sill. The police and fire people had just arrived. She has decorated her perch with banners criticising the incompetence of the bank and accusing them of having stolen all her money amounting to “millions”.
So maybe she has no intention of jumping, but is merely making her protest. I know nothing.
Anyway, I carried on to do what I had come out to do. When I returned at 1 pm she was still there. The fire people had set up their bouncy castle thing to catch her if she went over the edge.
There is also one above the bank entrance portico. Looks safe enough?
Well, from that angle, maybe. But from this angle below, you can see that they are unable to cover all the area under her. Still room for error.
Anyway, it’s now 4 pm and, for all I know, she may still be up there. But I’m not going back out to check. Too damned cold.
It isn’t every day in Liuzhou you see the word “cheese” in huge letters on a banner.
But I did today. It turns out that, rather than being a new cheese shop, “James Cheese” is a South Korean franchise operation which has started making inroads to China. Their signature dish, at least in Korea, is baby back ribs with mozzarella cheese.
According to the Eat Korea blog:
James’ menu is simple: baby back ribs and mozzarella fondue. That’s it. The ribs come in four levels of spiciness, and the cheese in three quantities of cheesiness. There are five automatic sides that basically amount to mashed potatoes, mashed pumpkin, Vienna sausages in tomato sauce, canned corn in mayo, and scrambled eggs. Everything comes out on a big, compartmented, cast-iron pan with each food in its pre-ordained space.
I haven’t been, so I can’t confirm that the menu is the same here (although the poster does depict the rib and cheese dish). It doesn’t sound very much like what the locals like, but I guess they have done their research.
The place is on the second floor just off the pedestrian street on the road (公园路) leading to the Pizza Hut.
For just over a week, Bubugao Hypermarket has been doling out these eight page leaflets promoting what they term a 全球美食节 or “Whole Earth Food Delicacies Festival”.
Of course, it’s no such thing. They are just flogging off the stuff they always have anyway. Overpriced crap wine, milk from Germany, overpriced Spanish olive oil, nasty jarred pasta sauces and average pasta.
But what really caught my attention was the promise of cooked Boston Lobster at ¥78 a hit. This I wanted to see. I was also drawn to the New Zealand Green Lip Mussels on offer at ¥68.80 a box (1 kg). These I also want to see.
Unfortunately, they seem to be a figment of the store management’s collective imaginations. There are precisely zero lobsters or mussels in the store. I’ve checked almost every day, since the promotion started (I live nearby.)
They also advertise avocados at ¥7 each in the leaflet, but in store they are charging ¥9.90.