The Miao ethnic minority mainly lives in southwesternChina, and has a long history. In ancient time, their ancestors lived in the vast area south of theYellow Riverand north of theYangtze River, and later migrated to the southwest.
Miaos are mainly engaged in agriculture, supplemented by hunting. They mostly live on rice, supplemented by maize, sweet potato, and wheat, etc., and mixed with some buckwheat, barley, oat, broomcorn millet, etc. They are fond of sour, hot and salty tastes, as well as tobacco and tea. Miaos raise domestic fowls and livestock, and plant various kinds of vegetables.
The typical diet of Miaos is sour food, and sour soup is the most well known. Miaos' long history of eating pickles is related to the fact that they live in deep mountains and lack salt. They can hardly buy vegetables and meat, so each household prepares a pickle jar to preserve various sour foods.
Paddy rice is their staple food. Apart from the ordinary ways of steaming and boiling, there are many other ways of cooking, such as fragrant bamboo rice, pastry block, rice noodles, dried cooked rice, glutinous rice dumpling, rice cake and fried rice, etc.
Miaos are fond of wild plants, including vegetables and medical herbs that can clear away heat, diminish inflammation, remove summer heat and help digestion, etc.
The most special foods for Miaos are bamboo worms, bee pupas, yellow ant eggs, piebald spiders, beetle eggs and other worms.
The special cooking ways of Miaos include burning, grilling, grinding, dipping, salting and eating raw. Burning refers to putting food in fire; grilling means stringing food with bamboo or wooden sticks, adding seasonings, and grilling it over the fire; grinding means cutting meat into small pieces, baking it over charcoal or burning it in the fire, and adding leek, mint, ginger, salt, garlic and other seasonings.
Oil tea is the most common daily drink. When drinking tea, if the guest does not want to have more, he/she should place a chopstick on the bowl; otherwise the host will always invite him/her to drink more.
Male and female guests are separated from each other in feasts. The elder drinks the first cup, and good dish must be first offered to guests. When chicken is served, the wings are offered to the guests, the head to the elder, and the claws to the children. It is a solemn way of proposing toasts with wine in an ox horn.
Miaos are mostly fond of drinking wine, which helps eliminate fatigue, show respect, express affection, and seek fun.