Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
This is the area of Phase 1, it is where I will began to build background information and at the same time be posing some big questions that I will be answering during my time in the village. In Phase 0 I was deciding the outline of the topic for which I am choosing.
What I think I know
Local food is shaped by the season, by the area and by the one who was cooking. Each of these dishes can tell a story, what I intend is to see these stories, to find and discover dishes that I never seen or heard of before. Since the village will be in the southern part of China there is very likely be light(in taste) dishes before the meal because the weather there is hotter than most other parts of China. Overall Yunnan is made up of mixed tribes, so the taste of local food will be depending on the majority of the village, what tribe do most of the residence belong to. Of course the tribes can have been together for so long that all of the specialties mixed together to create a new taste is.
Where I learn this from
I have researched this for a Chinese project last year, these are some of the details that I remembered from the knowledge that I retained. I have also learned parts of this from the Chinese class from this year which, surprisingly gave me the information of southern China having light dishes. That is where most of my bigger sources came from, the other smaller sources are just me looking at the news and seeing another case of food poisoning. Wondering why that would happen I search for the food around China and I stumbled upon the information listed above.
What I want to know
I want to understand the history of how these wonderful dishes are made. I think that looking into food that are a few points that I can focus on. One, the ingredients are the basis of the dish and where you get the ingredients can change everything from how it tastes to how it looks. Two, the process which the food is cooked is another entry point for me. I can see which way of cooking is more often used in the making of the dishes. Three, the cooking utensils that they use can also be used to tell which way of cooking they are implying. Four, the finished dish, I need to know what the food taste like and determine some facts that I can learn from it. These will be the main points that I will be focusing on.
I am now doing some background research for the project, if you want to check it out the link is right here in Phase 3.
Ten Big Questions
This list of questions will serves as a objective to what I should research. The italized words are just possible answers of the questions. There are groups on top of the questions to gather the closely related ones. I have changed into muslim food. (See Phase 3 for details)
1. Are there any drinks that muslims espically like?
Tea, tea is a way to clean the body, to refresh soul, that is what muslims drink mostly, alchohol is forbiten. Only in food alchohol can be used in the cooking of some dishes.
2.What style of cooking does the muslims use?
Steam, in chinese the characters steam are clease and pure, so for the muslims it is cleansing to the body.
3.Does the books of Qu'an affect the food?
Yes, the books talks about everything from science to agriculture and that the infomation inside contains infomation about food. I did not read the book but still got the infomation from Mr.Ma.
4.Is there any food that the Muslims can not eat?
Pork cannot be eaten in any way, any thing that looks like any part of a pig can not be eaten. For example eels, since that they look a pigs tail and that even using the oil of the pig cannot be used in dishes. If the pigs oil gets on a pot then the pot can not be used to cook food for the muslims, the pot will be consider dirty to the Muslims.
5.Are there any variations in the food in different regions (for Muslims)?
Yes there is, depending on the region of the muslims the food changes since that the weather and the customs are different. Certain ingreidents are harder to get in different areas, for example in the middle east there are no import of alcholhol and cigrettes at all.
6.What are some practices that the muslims make before gathering the ingredents?
Some muslims only kill cow on Sundays, it is something that has to blessed by the priest.
7.What kind of meat do Muslims mainly eat?
Goat, chicken, cow and fish. They only eat domesticated animals, so anything that is wild cannot be eaten by Muslims. It is considered unclean to do so, since the animals are always out in the wild.
8.Are muslims allowed to eat pork in exetrme conditions?
Muslims are allowed to eat pork in life-threatening conditions, it is only tolerated by the people if there are less as possible.
9.Does Sichuan affect the muslim culture in Yunnan?
Yes, that is why many of the Muslims I talked to like spicy food.
10.How does Hui differ from Bai?
Hui is only has a slight difference since that they took the culture of Bai and implant the idea of Allah.
Specially (No longer studying) 1.Are there any special type of animal or vegetable that only the province have? There can be something that is local to the province itself, that has not spread through out the other parts of Yunnan, for example the sheep stomach, but that might have spread beyond the border of Yunnan. 2.Do the people over there see their food as something special? I guess the local people probably will not since that they have only seen the world in their bubble. Factors affecting food (No longer studying) 3.Did any historical event ever affect the culture of food in XiZhou? I am not sure if there was a historical event big enough to effect the whole culture of the food in Xizhuo. 4.Do the tastes change because of the seasons? I guess that it will since most of China change their tastes according to the seasons, for example if it was winter then they would make soup or something hot to keep from the cold. 5.Can the other counties outside of China affect the food in Yunnan? I believe that can happen to the provinces since that IndoChina (Thailand, Laos, etc) is right blow Yunnan, the culture of food there can affect the province greatly. 6.Will the religion at the area affect the culture of the food? I guess it might affect a small part of the population but as a whole the religion will not determine the culture of the food. 7.How much does the geography of XiZhou affect their culture of food? The geography of XiZhou affect everything from the crops that they plant to the food that they make so I guess it is one of the biggest factors that creates Yunnan culture. Outliers (No longer studying) 8.Did any of the dishes ever spread over the orders of Yunnan or did they stay local and within the borders? Some of the dishes if famous enough will spread over the borders eventually by the techniques being taught to outsiders or by the migration of the people going to other provinces. 9.Is there any provinces in China with similar tastes as Yunnan? Yunnan is influenced by Sichuan culture, so I am pretty sure there will be more provinces that have a conflicting tastes with the province. 10.How much does the people earn off of the food that they make? (restaurants and street vendors) Local restaurants can make a good sum of money if the customer flow is stable but in XiZhou I do not think that the amount of outsiders are enough.
Before leaving to Yunnan I need to understand the average wage for Xizhou and the cost for the crops. The importance of this is that I need to see the difference in wages and the amount of money the population puts into restaurants and street vendors. Also the knowledge of what factors truly affect the culture of food in Yunnan. In my Phase 1 work I have finished asking myself questions and is now looking for sources to find my answers in Phase 2, if you want to see the progress please click on the link here. (Phase 2)