Hello! I am very excited to be spending the summer working in Xizhou, a small town next to Dali, Yunnan (southern China, bordering Burma and Laos) When not working, I have set myself the goal to try as many of Xizhou’s specialty snacks (小吃, xiaochi, literally “small eats”) as I can.
Xizhou is a very small town (3,000 in the town itself), so secretly my real goal is to become BFFs with the shop owners as well. A lot of tourists pass through Xizhou so I make sure to be extra friendly and wave to the same pengyous (朋友, friends) every chance I get!
First up, it is important to note (the somewhat obvious fact) that the Chinese food in the US is not reflective of most food in China. China is home to 56 minority groups, each with their own unique cultures and diets. The Chinese food that trickles to America is only tiny part of the diverse range of flavors and foods. Xizhou’s population is 90% Bai minority, a group that is known for its dairy. While many Chinese people are lactose intolerant, the Bai people are famous for having lots of cheese and yogurt in their daily diets.
While yogurt is not a particularly exotic snack to begin this series, I don’t think that any guide to Xizhou xiaochi could miss it! Many stands in Xizhou sell yogurt in the bottles you can see above. Most of the yogurts contain fruit such as blueberries or strawberries. Before purchasing, you shake the yogurt really well so the fruit pieces blend in throughout. Unlike in the US, Chinese people like their yogurt so thin you can drink it. I did not include it in the photo below, but I drank my mango yogurt with a straw.
The yogurt is sweet and creamy, with the texture of a very thin milkshake. A refreshing alternative to overly sweet fruit juices or bottled ice teas on a very hot day!