Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Lijiang Street Food: from the Savory to the Strange

Lijiang: yunnan ham
Yunnan ham = Chinese prosciutto (Looks uncannily like a Dutch masters’ still life doesn’t it?)

Southwestern Chinese towns have been cosmopolitan for millennia. Trade routes across the continent zig-zagged through the region, and left traces of cuisines from thousands of miles away. Lijiang in Yunnan province was a popular stop-off point for Tibetan, Sichuan, and South Asian travellers passing through on the Tea & Horse road.

The best food in Lijiang comes from its street corners and small restaurants. Here’s a selection from some of my favorite vendors.

Lijiang: baba bread

Lijiang baba is a portable snack of fried bread, either plain or flavored with onions and herbs. You can easily stick a half-dozen in your saddle-bags, and you’ll be ready for anything.

Lijiang: baozi

Baozi are those ubiquitous Chinese buns, filled with delectable meat and spices. They’re a staple of northern diets. See the steam coming from these? This shop makes them fresh, all day long.

Lijiang: baba and jelly

Baked lijiang baba on a pile of black “rice sausage” and grey bean-jelly – both typical Naxi delicacies. You’ll see them all over town.

Lijiang:roasted eggs

Ok I admit it – I never tried these eggs. Covered with mud and rice husks, they were just too hairy-looking. I shot these at my favorite local restaurant.

Lijiang: lijiang hamburger

These guys are making one of my favorite snacks: a “Lijiang hamburger”, made especially for the tourist trade. Here they’re toasting the bread on a small griddle.

lijiang 'hamburger'

And here’s the “burger”. There’s no meat in it – just jellied noodles, coriander, and plenty of chilli pepper & garlic. Most tables in Lijiang have chili pots on them, just like those in Sichuan.

Lijiang: fish on a stick

Another treat that delicious but isn’t exactly local are these fishes-on-a-stick. I highly recommend the chocolate flavor.

lijiang honey

Fresh from the hive to a street corner near you. With a climate similar to that of northern California, in Lijiang everything’s fresh from nearby fields, all year round.

Lijiang: lijiang biscuits

Healthy biscuits from street-side bakeries. Low on sugar, and packed with peanuts and sesame seeds, they’re a great way to fuel explorations of nearby towns like Suhe and Baisha.

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