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Taste of home in a sausage
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2012-03-14 13:48

Strips of shiny salted bacon attract customers at a fair in Nanyun, Sichuan province. Yu Zhonghua / For China Daily


On the first day of the Lunar New Year, a home-sick PhD candidate at the Michigan State University in the United States wrote home to his mother Wan Xiang in Chengdu. Apart from the usual good wishes, Mi Li, 26, also told her how much he missed home, and the Sichuan sausages and bacon.

Sichuan sausages and the salted bacon are the two basic items on the Spring Festival banquet table. They have been eaten here for thousands of years, according to Yuan Tingdong, a local expert in folk customs.

The bacon is made from fresh belly pork that is laid down under layers of salt in a large container. After several days, the strips of meat are taken out and hung to air-dry for several more days in windy, sunny weather. It is ready to eat soon after.

It is sliced very thinly and braised with peas, garlic and potato, or typically eaten by blanching in boiling water and then cut into paper-thin slices. Mi loves the bacon when it is served as a cold dish.

His favorite part is the transparent fat, which to him, most represents the cuisine of his home city.

The process of sausage production is more complicated. Sichuan sausage is made from minced pork that has a good percentage of fat in it. It is then marinated in a pickling mix of dried red chili, cooking starch, soy sauce, wild peppercorns, green cabbage seed oil, salt, liquor, old ginger and star anise.

The ingredients are carefully blended and then stuffed into pig's intestines, and then air-dried rather than dried in the sun. The sausages are typically blanched, then sliced into filmy wafers and served as in cold dish. Nowadays, many housewives cook it with broccoli, fried rice and eggs, Several Chinese style "pizzas" also feature the cured meat and sausages. Many also like to dip the sausages into the famous Sichuan hot pot.

It is memories like these that make Mi's mouth water when he thinks about them in the States. The PhD candidate was born and brought up in Chengdu till he attended the Beijing-based Tsinghua University in 2003. Perhaps it will be these memories, too, that will bring him home.

Source:China Daily 
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