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When Truffle Buddha Jumps Over the Wall

Updated: 2024-02-09 08:45 ( China Daily Global )
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Shrimp, chicken and fish dishes grace tables in both the northern and southern regions in China. CHINA DAILY

Meatballs are also essential on some dining tables in the Northeastern region. Ren explains that households typically make two types of meatballs. The "Four Happiness Meatballs" are the size of an apple and similar to the lion's head meatball in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. However, unlike the clear broth used in those regions, the Four Happiness Meatballs are deep-fried, then stewed in a thick soup. Made in sets of four, they symbolize the four great joys of life — happiness, wealth, longevity, and good fortune.

The other type is smaller, about the size of a coin. Families make them with either meat or vegetables such as sweet potato or shredded radish.

Ren also mentions a less common type of meatball made by wrapping minced meat in tofu skin, cutting it into sections, dipping in a flour-based batter and deep-frying. Locals call these "qianzi," symbolizing the wish for many descendants and abundant blessings.

In Northeastern China, there's a unique custom of celebrating the birthdays of those turning 60 or 80 that year on the sixth or eighth day of the first month of the lunar calendar, regardless of their actual date of birth, Ren says.

The approaching Spring Festival has kept Ren busy this year, as he traveled to Fengtian restaurant branches across the country. He noticed a growing appreciation for Northeastern cuisine both in northern and southern regions while also noting the varying customs people follow in different cities.

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