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Eating around the sun throughout the year

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-01 08:49
Three food-and-beverage establishments-The Red Chamber, The Lounge and Atmosphere-join forces to create a food-and-cocktail menu based on the 24 solar terms in Beijing on Jan 24. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The ancient Chinese created the 24 solar terms to guide agricultural activities based on changes in the climate and natural phenomena that greatly influenced many aspects of daily life, including food, clothing and festivals.

The solar terms were inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016, renewing interest in the tradition.

Three food-and-beverage establishments-The Red Chamber, The Lounge and Atmosphere-have joined forces to create a food-and-cocktail menu based on the terms in Beijing on Jan 24. The selections combine history and heritage with modern cuisine and innovative techniques.

Some "popular" solar terms are associated with food, The Red Chamber's executive chef Zhou Xuyu says. For instance, northerners eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice.

"But people don't eat special foods for each term," he says.

"I've always wanted to study all 24 solar terms and the ingredients that are suitable to use during them. The menu's dishes use the most seasonal ingredients according to the 24 solar terms."

For the coming term, the Beginning of Spring, Zhou has prepared traditional spring pancakes with Chinese chives, while The Lounge will serve deep-fried spring rolls and a soup of jujubes, goji berries and mountain yams.

At the Beginning of Summer, people are traditionally encouraged to eat light, cooling dishes.

The Red Chamber will offer steamed loofah with garlic and ginger, and The Lounge will present a light soup of duck broth and fresh bamboo shoots.

Indeed, a range of healthy seasonal dishes will be offered without sacrificing flavor or presentation.

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