Chengde is situated on the transitional belt of the Inner Mongolia Plateau and the Northern China Plain. The landforms are quite complex in this area, including forested areas, grasslands, mountains, plains, hills, and valleys.
The area abounds with products and game, which became the basis of its unique dietary culture. From the periods of the emperors Kangxi and Qianlong in the Qing dynasty, royal families began to build retreats here, including the Royal Summer Resort and Mulan Hunting Reserve.
As the emperors came to avoid the heat and go hunting, Chengde combined local and royal dietary cultures with local products, gradually forming a cuisine of many famous dishes, including the local chicken enveloped with lotus leaves, Pingquan frozen rabbit, Qinglong fish, spiced deer meat, fried pheasant, wild flavor hotpot, and the Eight Immortals of wild flavor.
Meanwhile, many snacks of Chengde, on the strength of inherited traditions, began to attract the attention of cooks and epicures of cooking styles from all over the country. The local flavors of Chengde integrated specialities of other places, and became quite famous due to the favor of the emperors.
Some of these well-known snacks are Chengde bean-starch noodles, Donkey Rolling Rolls, Rose Biscuits, Snow-white Imperial Noodles, and Noodles of the Imperial Household.
Donkey-Rolling Roll is a long roll with stuffing wrapped in yellow rice. The Roll is served on a bed of yellow beans. The act of turning the roll on the yellow beans is just like a donkey rolling on the ground. That is how the snack got its name. It could be found in Chengde more than 200 years ago.
Generally less than one hundred yuan for a large plate (in Chengde restaurants, there are always large and small plates; the large plate is about ten inches wide and the small one seven inches wide).
You noodle is a kind of coarse food grain. It is slightly dark colored. The local You Noodle wozi dough is first rolled out to a thin skin, and then formed to its final shape. After that, it is put into a pot and braised. You dip it in the sauce when eating. It feels smooth and jelly-like in your mouth. You Noodle jiaozi is a kind of ravioli stuffed with pickled vegetables.
Pubang deer meat clusters and the cooked deer meat clusters are quite tasty, and cost only four or five yuan for each cluster. They are well worth trying. In the street south of the Summer Resort, there are many shops featuring local specialities which cater to tourists.
I updated this article on August 21, 2012
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