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Culinary Delights of Kunming
2005-12-29 09:22:05

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Today we hit the road to Kunming, an ever-spring city located in Yunnan province in southwest China. With beautiful weather all year round and spectacular landscape, Kunming has always been a tourist Mecca. However we are not here to admire the landscape but rather to sample the local culinary delights of this charming city.

Kunming is a city with something to offer to everyone -- sunshine, blue skies, fragrant flowers, endless leisurely pursuits, a relaxed ambience and exciting business opportunities draw a diverse range of visitors to this city. Known for their friendliness and peaceful mind, Kunming locals maintain a very easygoing approach to life and rarely complain about anything. The only occasion grumble may be about the very rare occurrence of bad weather, which would certainly be different from what locals are accustomed to.

The city has a long and rich history of over 6 centuries. Around a hundred years ago, a Frenchman came here and used his camera to record the picturesque scenery of this exotic and beautiful place. Although few of the city's ancient buildings and streets have survived the centuries of wear and tear, Kunming's colorful culture and long standing traditions have survived and are still widely practiced.

One of Kunming's biggest attractions is the local Yunnan cuisine, whose history can be traced back to over 4,000 years ago. The many different ethnic groups which historically dwelt in the province's valleys and near its waterways all had their influence on its food, creating an already diverse range of local dishes. However, when the Ming Dynasty began its large migration schemes, thousands of people from inland China were relocated to Yunnan and the local cuisine began to absorb even more culinary styles from the rest of China. The result is a cosmopolitan and thus unique cuisine that incorporates an enormous array of flavors and ingredients and is often characterized for its use of mildly spicy and sour flavors and oils.

Commentators have noted that the wide appeal of Yunnan food is perhaps due to its diverse range of flavors. Wang Yulin is a local of Kunming and he gives his insight on the popularity of the local culinary delights:

"Yunnan cuisine is not listed in the 8 major schools of Chinese culinary art, namely the cuisines of Beijing, Guangdong, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan, Anhui and Fujian. However, Yunnan dishes have their distinct characteristics, and those who've sampled them learn to fully appreciate their diversity and savor their freshness and lightness. Many of the dishes borrow hot, spicy flavors from neighboring Sichuan. Others, influenced by migrants from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong, reflect the subtle, well rounded tastes of eastern and southeast Chinese cuisines. So visitors from all corners of the country can find something to their taste in Kunming."

Learn more about Kunming and the beautiful Yunnan Province:
Travel Express Vol.64: Fascinating Yunnan
Photo Galleries: Stone Forest and Yi Fire Festival   From Dali to Lijiang


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