Xiangxi dietary habit & Cuisine
People of ethnic minorities in Xiangxi are used to eating “sour and hot” food (photo 1-32). They develop such a habit because, in an old Chinese saying, “One has to make use of the local resources available.”
They eat sour food because of the geological conditions of Xiangxi region. The traffic conditions were not convenient in ancient times, and this was especially true in mountainous areas. Seldom did peddlers go deep into the mountainous areas to sell salt. In addition, the mountainous area in Xiangxi is short on salt-bearing strata, and the local inhabitants did not know how to dig salt well. They had no way out but to eat sour food to keep food from rotting. Living in wet climate, the indigenous inhabitants have to eat hot food to keep out moisture and diseases such as rheumatism.
It is in such a long period that Xiangxi people gradually develop the irreplaceable habit of eating sour and hot food. Such a deep-seated tradition is formed based on both local people’s food preference and local geological conditions.
Photo 1-32 Xiangxi Sour Fish
Moreover, Xiangxi is also a main green tea production area. The soils in the tea-producing area in Baojing County are rich. The growing of tea trees is closely linked with the physical, chemical and biological environment of the soil. The soils of Baojing County are mainly sandy loam. Such soils are formed based on the growing of limestone, dolomite, slate and shale. The pH value of such soils ranges from 4.2 to 6.5. Such soils contain rich organic materials, and the average content rate is 4.5 percent. Such soils are suitable for growing tea leaves and other acidophilic plants. The soils of Baojing County are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The content of effective phosphorus is higher than that of the common tea gardens in hilly land. The soils are also rich in selenium (0.32 – 3.94 mg/kg). The content of selenium is gradually growing in the soils from mountain top to mountainside and then to mountain foot. “Baojing Golden Tea” has “high contents of amino acids, tea polyphenols, and water extract.” It is characterized by “aroma, green color, tasty and rich flavor.”