Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 5 years 3 weeks ago

In Phase 0, I had worked to develop a feasible inquiry project idea for when I go to Microcampus. My idea was to go around Xizhou and ask chefs to teach me about the foods they make and how to make the dishes. In the end, I aspire to have a fully developed cookbook. Now, I am on Phase 1. In this phase, my work will revolve entirely around posing questions about my topic that I can research about in the village. I will also be assessing my current knowledge of my topic and what I hope to learn.

Currently, I do not know much about my topic. I know about some of Xizhou's dishes, however, I do not know anything else except the appearance and taste, along with some names. I do know that Yunnan foods are spicy, and the chefs use lots of vegetables in their dishes. These tastes are mainly because of the climate and surrounding environment. Some foods that are commonplace in Xizhou are the Xizhou Baba, a kind of pizza-like dish, and noodles. They grow their ingredients locally, and they cook by what is in season. Because of this, Xizhou foods tend to be fresh. 

I learned this because when I was in sixth grade, I went to Xizhou with my family, and some friends. While there, we basically toured around the village, and learned about culture. Part of a place's culture is food culture, so we went through the markets, tried local dishes, and visited noodle making establishments. However, being younger, I did not listen as much as I could have. In the spring of that same year, my older brother went on Microcampus, and when he came back, recounted all his stories. These two occasions are the basis for all my knowledge on Xizhou.

Firstly, I wish to learn about the history behind the foods. I want to see that how in history, the availability of the ingredients and the location of the village affected the local specialties. For the purpose of my project idea, a cookbook, I want to learn about the recipes of the foods, and for my personal benefits, I want to learn to make the foods myself. Besides these, I also want to learn about the village in general, and maybe even learn where their foods are coming from.

Now, a week or so later, I have done some research and my findings are on my Phase 3 page.

I have come up with some questions so that when I get to Xizhou, I will have ideas to fuel my research. I have also grouped the questions. I grouped my questions with the first 4 about differences between two topics or things, then number 5 being about statistics of the foods in the village, numbers 6 and 7 about the chef's past with the food, and the rest about preparation and the cooking of the food. My questions are: (the words in italics are possible answers that I have thought of)

1) Do Yunnan specialties differ if made in Xizhou or if made in Kunming? How big are the differences between them?

Yes, because they differ because each area has different ingredients that they cook with, however, I do not believe that the differences are that big because in essence, they are the same dish.

2) Does Xizhou cooking use specific utensils that are different from those used in Shanghai? (pots, pans, plates, etc.)

In terms of the big items such as pots, I think that there are no differences but for cutting fungi and mosses, I think that the people of Xizhou have specialized utensils.

3) Would my inquiry project have yielded different results and discoveries if I visited in the winter, as opposed to the spring?

Yes, because different crops would have been in season.

4) Is the food at a Restaurant different than what people eat at home?

I think that at home, people eat more simply than they do at restaurants.

5) What is, on average, the most highly rated dish in Xizhou?

I do not know, I have not asked anyone.

6) How do the chefs learn the recipes that they use to cook with?

I think that they learn from their parents, or other family members.

7) Do the foods have significance or memories behind them for the chefs who make them?

Chefs probably remember times spent with their family while making the dishes that their parents probably made for them.

8) At a classic Xizhou Restaurant/food vendor, who buys the food? where do the ingredients come from exactly? (locations in the village)

I think that the owner, or a person in his family/business would buy the food. Not knowing the exact locations in the village, I cannot tell where the food comes from exactly.

9) How do people in Xizhou prepare the foods before cooking?

Again, I do not know exactly but I think that if meats or vegetables need marinating, they marinate them. I also think that they age Rubing (see Phase 3).

10) How do you make all the Yunnan specialties? recipes?

I do not know. I have never learned any Yunnan recipes

As of May 6th 2015, I have answered all these questions and you can view the answers on Phase 3.

Before leaving for Xizhou, I have to review or learn names of different ingredients used in Xizhou cooking, techniques used to cook, and cooking utensil names. I also would like to know the rough layout of the village so while there, I do not get lost. I also want to know how I will format and go about making my cookbook.

I have finished this phase, and am now ready to move on to Phase 2. In Phase 2, I will evaluate my current resources and find more, helpful and professional resources.

Now we have left Xizhou and are back in Shanghai. You can look through my inquiry project, service learning, and journals and see what work I did during my time in the wonderful village of Xizhou. While In Xizhou, I researched food and cuisine and ultimately made a cookbook. I was part of the Limitless group in May 2015, and was 13 years old on that trip. I enjoy martial arts and water sports.