Visa-free policy gives visitors a taste of Sichuan
Updated: 2014-05-29 10:53
The China Sichuan Cuisine Cultural Museum has become a tourist hotspot following the start of Chengdu's 72-hour visa-free policy, according to a museum official.
The 4,000-square-meter museum is in Pixian county in southwestern Chengdu and has high-tech facilities for visitors to learn about the history and skills behind Sichuan food.
Sichuan cuisine goes back 3,000 years and is one of the eight major traditional cuisines in China.
Xu Liang, the curator of the museum said the number of foreign tourists visiting the museum, which promotes Chinese food and culture, has increased since the visa-free policy started in September 2013.
The policy allows transit passengers who have a third country visa and valid air ticket to stay visa-free in Chengdu for up to 72 hours.
In 2013, 1.76 million international travelers visited Chengdu, a 12.09 percent increase compared to the previous year.
The Sichuan cuisine museum was particularly popular with tourists from North America, the museum official said.
Matt Vegh, from Canada, spent a day in the museum and cooked Sichuan dishes.
"I learned that Sichuan cuisine is surprisingly delicious yet hard to cook," he said.
A French visitor surnamed Louis spent a day in the museum with his daughter Zoe and both of them were impressed by the high-tech exhibits.
Zoe particularly enjoyed a panda machine called Dr Panda, which used state-of-the-art technology to help it distinguish between different types of seasonings that visitors put under its nose.
She spent a whole afternoon testing out Dr Panda's skills with a variety of seasoning.
A highlight of the museum is learning how to make Douban, a unique bean sauce commonly used in Sichuan food.
Pixian has been a production base for the sauce for more than 300 years and Douban produced in the county is honored as a Chinese intangible cultural heritage.
The museum is part of the Sichuan Cuisine scenic area, which also includes an entertainment section and a 23,000 square meter food court.
The Pixian County Tourism Bureau invited 1,000 foreigners to visit the scenic area, including the museum on April 19.
"We are open to the world and we hope to boost the image of Sichuan cuisine globally," Xu said.
Xu said the museum was also planning to build another area near the museum for people to take cooking classes.
"Sichuan food is very special and has good reputation in both China and abroad, we hope more people can learn about it," he said.
Sichuan is colloquially knownas the "heavenly country" due to its abundance of food and natural resources.
Most Sichuan dishes are spicy, although a typical meal includes nonspicy dishes to cool the palate.
Sichuan cuisine often contains food preserved through pickling, salting and drying and is generally spicy due to the heavy use of chilli oil.