Xi’an’s Winter Holiday Treats

Article By Brian Bergey

As the temperature drops and the dark nights grow long, many of us start thinking about seasonal treats that remind us of the holidays. Although local treats may seem a bit unusual, there are a number of special snacks to enjoy as seasonal ingredients become available. This month we put together a list of our favorite treats most commonly enjoyed during the holiday season.

Tangyuán, 汤圆
(Glutinous Rice Balls)

Many people associate Tangyuán with Chinese New Year, as this sweet treat is easy to fi nd around the city in winter months. Carts and shops proudly display piles of these bright white balls covered in rice fl our that are taken home to boil and enjoy with family and friends. Their importance during the Chinese New Year season is due to their round shape, which symbolizes a family being close and held together.

Our favorite place to get Tangyuán is nestled in a small alley in the Muslim district. Not only have they been hand-making their balls for 30 years, but they also offer a small seating area where they will cook and serve them fresh onsite. They offer 5 fl avors, including black sesame, rose and hawthorn. Our recommendation is to try one of each!

Shānzhātáng, 山楂糖
(Hawthorn Fruit Candy)

We like to call this China’s Fruit-Rollup. The origin of these bright red blocks of chewy candy is often a mystery, but we managed to fi nd an uncle who has been making this candy by hand for many years.

Hawthorn is a small, bright-red fruit similar to a crabapple. Its most popular use in China is smashing the fruit to create a paste and then adding sugar to form the candy you fi nd on the street. They are also sometimes used in traditional Chinese medicine and are generally known to be good for your stomach and digestion. Their tart punch means that they need sugar before they are good enough to eat.

Bīng tang húlu , 冰糖葫芦
(Candied Fruit)

What better way to preserve fruit than covering it in sugar, hardened and chilled by the brisk air? These treats can be found on any street corner in winter and offer a variety of candied fruit ranging from strawberries to crabapples to tomatoes. Their bright colors make them popular with children, plus it’s always fun to eat from a stick!

What You Need to Know:

Head west from the bell tower and turn right on GuangJiBei Lu. Walk approx. one block until you reach a small alley called Hua Jue. Turn right and the shop will be on your right in about 20 meters.

Head one block east of the Hilton hotel on Xin Jie Street. This cart will be on the northwest corner of Xin Jie Street and Hua Yu Alley, across the street from the Yong xing fang street food market and the east city wall

Bing tang húlu:
For a consistent rotation of carts, head one traffic light north of the bell tower to the intersection of North Street and Xi Xin Street. Our favorite is on the southeast corner.

Brian is from the US and has lived all over the world finding good food and adventure
everywhere he lives. In Xi’an he works for an American software company and co-owns Lost Plate Food Tours, a tour company aimed at introducing foreigners to the best local food in the city. To find out more about their tours, check out www.lostplate.com or email info@lostplate.com