By Weizhen Zhong
Growing up in Tianshui, part of the Gansu province, was different years ago from what it is today. Sure, it was a busy place then, but as the years have gone by, the population has grown. My memories of my time as a young girl there are so vivid – the gardens, the places to see, even the people.
One place I remember visiting is Maijishan Grottoes which dates back to AD 420 and is one of the four largest such grottos in China. The Tang poet Du Fu visited the site and wrote a poem entitled “Mountain Temples” which translated reads.
“There are few monks left in these remote shrines,
And in the wilderness the narrow paths are high,
The musk-deer sleep among the stones and bamboo
The cockatoos peck at the golden peaches.
Streams trickle down among the paths;
Across the overhanging cliff the cells are ranged,
Their tiered chambers reaching to the very peak;
And for a 100 li one can make out the smallest thing.”
The first time I enjoyed this delicious meal it was presented to me by my mother. It was Chinese New Year; I was only six years old and our family had gathered to celebrate together. I was amazed by the flavour! From the eight-angle (star anise) to the tartness of the rice wine vinegar every bite was amazing. I was convinced my mother was a genius in the kitchen.
I present to you this taste on behalf of my mother, please enjoy it.