The Ark of Taste’s 3000th Product Boards in China

The Ark of Taste’s 3000th Product Boards in China
April 04 12:07 2016

By Ahmed Idris

[T]he 3000th passenger on the Ark of Taste, Slow Food’s international catalogue of food products, has arrived from China. The Huanghua fancy steamed bun marks an important milestone for the project that aims to preserve and promote food biodiversity worldwide. The Ark of Taste highlights food products, breeds and varieties that are at risk of disappearing, along with the traditions and knowledge to which they are linked.

The Huanghua fancy steamed bun is a small bun molded into different shapes. It is made of wheat grown in local saline-alkali dryland which is milled, processed into dough, shaped in handmade wooden molds and then steamed. The wooden molds are carved into different shapes: fish, chickens, hedgehogs, mice, longevity peaches, haystacks and more.

The bun has an ancient tradition and is typical of the cultural tradition of Huanghua city in the Hebei Province. Due to the local saline-alkali soil, the grain output in the area was very low and food was scarce. For this reason, flour was considered especially precious. During the holidays, local people did not have respectful offerings for gods and ancestors, so they started to use the rare flour to make buns in the various shapes as offerings to worship gods and ancestors, and to pray for harvest, happiness and luck in the coming year.

One of the world’s largest countries and its most populated, China has recently given increased attention to safeguarding its gastronomic heritage and traditions.  The newly launched Slow Food Great China is also dedicated to this cause, aiming to catalog 100 products on the Ark of Taste in 2016 and to create several Slow Food Presidia. To reach this goal, Slow Food Great China has partnered with the New Rural Reconstruction Movement, a network of various groups with common goals to regenerate rural areas. The partnership will work to establish a scientific committee which will work on introducing Ark of Taste and Presidia projects in China.

President of Slow Food Great China, Mrs. Qiao Ling, is very pleased that the Huanghua fancy steamed bun is the 3000th product to board the Slow Food Ark of Taste. She believes that the bun, from its production technique to its cultural value, completely reflects the Slow Food philosophy of good, clean and fair. Mrs. Qiao hopes that this will represent an initial symbolic step in Slow Food Great China gradually nominating more and more good quality and locally important foods to the Ark of Taste. She hopes that it will set a good example, encouraging more small-scale producers to preserve the traditions of Chinese food culture.