Xizhou Food Guide / Sugar Rose Cake

Welcome to another post from my Xizhou Food Guide series, where I highlight different specialty foods from Xizhou, Dali, Yunnan.

It seems like most of these posts begin with “I wish there was a better translation for this.”

Yesterday, I helped translate the new special menu of our restaurant into English, and I felt like every single dish had exactly the same problem.  黄焖鸡, which has a very famous rich sauce, literally translates to “Yellow Braised Chicken.” Some of the dishes use vegetables that we just don’t have in the West. However, I suppose Western dishes have a lot of translation difficulties, too. How do you translate the difference between shortbreads, bars, and cookies when you only have the word bing? How do you explain sponge cake or pound cake?

This is another winner from my favorite bakery in all of China, the Muslim bakery off the corner of the main square. This one is called “meigui gao,” literally “rose cake,” although when I was in the back trying to figure out the recipe to my buckwheat cake I saw that an old sign also called it “bai tang meigui gao,’ or “white sugar rose cake.” Considering there are so many different types of rose cookies and cakes here, I figure that “white sugar” makes it at least a little more specific.

This cake is thick with a powdery texture that crumbles quite easily. It reminds me of a less sticky version of mochi. It would be false to call it “light,” but it is definitely less rich than some of my other favorites from this shop!

I also love the way this cake looks: light green with flecks of pink rose petals scattered throughout.

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