Maonan Food

       The staple food of the Maonan is rice. They also eat corn and sweet potatoes as supplementary food. Meat consumption includes beef, pork, chicken and duck. Beef and pork are their main meat diet. They consume more beef than the Zhuang. However, in festivals like Qing Ming (Clear and Bright), July the Fourteenth (of the lunar calendar, the Festival to commemorate the Dead) chicken and duck are preferred. Occasionally, dog meat is eaten. Snake is not regarded as a source of food, unlike the practice of the local Zhuang and the Han people.
       The Maonan people like to eat pickled foodstuffs. Such practice is documented in the stele of the Tam Family Saga:'No dishes are cooked without sour ingredients'. Among the special pickled dishes, the best known is sam serm da Maonan (three-sour-middle-Maonan) 'The Three Maonan Sour Dishes'. The first is nanserm (meat-sour) 'pickled meat'. This is done by mixing pork with cooked glutinous rice and leaving the mixture in an urn for about twenty days until they become sour and aromatic. Before serving, some preserved pork is placed on top of half cooked rice and then steamed for ten minutes. I had heard of such specialty before going to the Maonan area. I first had some doubt about it, but had a chance to sample it. It was really delicious, with a unique sweet-flavoured taste. The second is zofat (soup-fermented) 'fermented soup'. This is made by putting fried water snails into water collected from washing rice, then adding roasted or smoked pork thighbones and uncooked rice before sealing them in an urn for 20 days. Then it is ready to serve in summer. The third is ongwui(urn-lime) '(dish preserved with) lime in an urn'. It is prepared by mixing green pepper with giu (a kind of very small onion) and soybeans and lime water, then putting these in salt water for 20 days to produce sour juice which smells good. Meat or vegetables are often marinated in such juice before cooking to produce a unique flavor.

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