Wuhan: a city of breakfast snacks

Updated: Nov 22, 2019 Print
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Wuhan is a major transportation hub, one which connects both northern and southern China. The dishes in Wuhan are a unique combination of northern and southern culinary styles. A lot of Wuhan's specialties are snacks, particularly late-night snacks; these emerged with the dock culture, which came about as the city's transport-related commerce developed. The taste of the local dishes is simple yet strong, much like the character of the local people.

In Wuhan, having breakfast or “guo zao”, as it is said in the local dialect, is the first step towards fully experiencing Wuhan's culinary treats. The expression “guo zao” first appeared in the poem "Hankou Bamboo" in 1850, during the Daoguang period of the Qing Dynasty. Since ancient times, Wuhan has stood out among other cities because of its commercial prosperity. The people of this city had to rush to the markets early in the morning, so they had no time to prepare breakfast at home. People started eating at small stalls set up along the street; that tradition still remains today.

Eating breakfast in Wuhan is convenient, and there are many options for people to choose from. Fried bread sticks (you tiao), fried rice buns (mian wo), steamed dumplings with or without minced meat, bean pies (dou pi), hot-and-dry noodles, rice noodles with beef, sautéed noodles with minced meat (zha jiang mian), bean stripes (dou si), wontons, and sweet dumplings (tang yuan) are just a few of the great breakfast snacks available in Wuhan. It is no exaggeration to say that you could go for one month without repeating the same breakfast snack.

Hot-and-dry noodle, known as the "king of the breakfast snacks," is a must for visitors. Mr. Wang Yongzhong, the owner of a century-old restaurant that sells hot-and-dry noodles, once said, "Fine and smooth in taste but rough and dark in appearance, hot-and-dry noodles, better than any other dish, represents the city of Wuhan, its people, and its culture." In France, many Chinese exchange students are from Wuhan. To meet the demand, authentic hot-and-dry noodles are exported to France to be sold at Chinese restaurants in Paris.

Hubei has long enjoyed a reputation as "the province of a thousand lakes" and "the land of fish and rice." Wuhan, Hubei's capital city, produces excellent aquatic products. It is not uncommon to see such products made into delicious dishes, such as steamed Wuchang fish, Mianyang steamed dishes, pork rib and lotus root soup, fish balls, and braised turtle. These are just a few Wuhan specialty dishes.

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