A Bite of China- Rou Jia Mo, staple food of Xi’an
By reason of the various physical geographies, the unique distribution of Chinese agriculture has taken shape some 1000 years ago that dry farming of millet and wheat is carried out in the Yellow River Valley in north China, while the wet farming of rice is implemented in Yangtze River Basin in south China, which in consequence results in a common phenomenon- northerners prefer wheaten food and southerners cannot live without rice. For thousands of years, to reward toil on the soil, Chinese people live in different regions find a way to make diversified food with the simplex basic material of grains.
In north China with the wide stretches of land, the ripe wheat colors the earth with golden yellow every autumn. Since introduced into Central Plains from western Asia some 4000 years ago, the eutrophic wheat has localized and turned into one of the two major crops of China. A leading role on Chinese tables, staple food made from wheat is the primary source of energy offering most calories that people needed. The typical handling of wheat is grinding them into powders and then made into a variety of food, such as noodles (of Lanzhou), rice noodles (of Guilin), steamed buns, dumplings, Chinese deep-fried cakes, Chinese breads and hamburgers.
The world known ancient city of Xi’an, the capital for 13 dynasties in ancient China, was once the most bustling city in the world especially in Tang Dynasty (618-907). It attracted people from every corner of the world as well as their tasty food in the meantime. To this day, the city is certainly still the food paradise that every new visitor will explore for featured dishes and snacks in the famous district of the Muslim Street. Among its dozens of famed tempting food, Bai Ji Mo (白吉馍), or Chinese baked flatbread, an indigenous staple Xi’an food, is a must for trying, while Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍) and Pita Bread (Bai Ji Mo) Soaked in Beef or Lamb Soup (牛/羊肉泡馍) are the typical ways to enjoy this dainty.
The authentic Bai Ji Mo is made from wheat flour, which is made into a batter with ingredients such as eggs, and stirred constantly for an extended period of time, and then baked in a mud or clay oven till thoroughly set. Rou Jia Mo, a meat burger or meat sandwich of Chinese which is so famous that even included in the menu of the Café in Florida’s Disney Land, can be traced back to Qin Dynasty (221-206B.C.) and firstly invented by Han people. The meat for Roujiamo was initially the pork, which was stewed for hours in the thick soup comprising more than 30 kinds of spices and seasonings. The soft and glutinous taste of the meat can amazingly combine the simply taste of Baijimo. Promoted in the history by Muslims lived in Xi’an who refused any pork, today, beef and lamb are popular substitutions for meat in the Roujiamo.
Pita Bread Soaked in Beef or Lamb Soup, simply small slices of Bai Ji Mo cooked or just soaked in beef or lamb soup is another popular staple food in Xi’an. It is a perfect mixture of wheaten Baijimo and thick soup which was stewed for more than ten hours. To enjoy this dish, to break Bai Ji Mo into pieces with hands is the most important part as well as the most enjoyable process. Each person can slice the Mo into different sizes or shapes according to his own eating habits, and for almost every Xi’an people, to lift of finger to do this simple action is indeed a quite enjoyment other than the eating.
---By April (VisitOurChina)