Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 3 years 2 days ago
In Phase 0, I made my decision on my final inquiry project. Carrying on with the process in Phase 1, I have said what I already know and what I want to know. I will also be posing big questions that will guide my research in XiZhou. I will be doing the background research for Phase 1 here. I will also be showing the information I got from 3-to-5's, information from local contacts, my answers to the questions I will pose in Phase 1 and all the sources I used. In Phase 2, did some research to find helpful resources for our project. In this Phase, I will be finding and writing down the information I find.
Background Information (from Phase 1):
The Bai group does not follow one of the three main religions, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.They do not organize gods from different religions, instead, they call them "ser".[1] On the third day of the third lunar month, there is a festival called the Shangsi Festival. It is a celebration for the Queen Mother of the West, 西王母 (Xi WangMu). Traditionally, that day is for cleaning their houses and going on an outing. Sticky rice called 粑粑 (Baba) is usually eaten on this day.[2] 
Another festival that the Bai people celebrate is the Torch Festival which is on the June 24th on the lunar calendar. They start preparing for the Torch Festival about one month before. They start to get the torches made, the food and clothing ready. They purchase festival food like wine, sweets, noodle, and fruit. On the day of the festival, they clean their houses and everyone gets dressed for the festival. The men butcher the cows and distribute the meat while the women cook.  This festival is a celebration of the victory against the demon king.[3]
The Yunnan Province has a wide range of food from rich farming of vegetables and crops to spicy foods, which is under the influence of their neighboring province, Sichuan. The major foods of Yunan are er kuai, cabbage, rice noodle, Ji Dou, Liang fen, and tofu. [4]
There is a restaurant in XiZhou called Golden Flower. It is considered one of the more expensive and best. There is a fried beef there that is recommended by Ivy, a Microcampus student in the Cookie Monster group. Mr. Yang has kept the shop for more than 32 years. He started the business of the Golden Flower in 1985. [5]
Another restaurant there is the Old Town Snacks. It is run by Ms. Zhao and Ms. Kang. They have a variety of fried rice at the restaurant. There is no set menu, meaning that there can be requests to add or take away ingredients. Even though fried rice is their specialty, they also sell ersi, rice noodles, and noodles. They opened the shop because they enjoyed cooking and it makes them happy when people like their food. [6]
There is a famous type of food at XiZhou called er kuai. It is a Chinese Burrito where the skin is thicker and you put the sauces on right after it is cooked. Lots of family-owned restaurants put spicy potato in the er kuai. There are skins like white rice, purple rice, bitter wheat, and corn. There are sauces like peanut and sesame, chili meat, spicy mushroom, baked tofu, spicy and sweet.  [7]
Another special food in XiZhou is the XiZhou Baba. It was originated during the 1860's. It was originated in 山东 and was called 破酥粑粑.[9] It is similar to a pizza but thinner and it does not have cheese and tomatos on it. There are two flavors, sweet and salty. The sweet flavor has either red bean paste or rose filling and the salty flavor is chopped up spring onions/chives and ground up pork that is spinkled onto the XiZhou Baba.[8]The dough is quite difficult to make and requires a lot of experience and skill. It is soft but sticky and goes through fermentation. They also use thick pig fat for oil.[9] 老字号 was voted the best restaurant for XiZhou Baba by the Microcampus students. It is owned by Mr. Yang and he has been making Baba for 13 years. Even though he does not enjoy making XiZhou Baba, its his only way of making the income he has right now. He also claims that XiZhou Baba is better than LiJiang Baba. [8]
Information from Local Contacts:
Mr. Zhao (YangZhou Ran Guard) [10]
  • In 1985, the lifestyle was great
  • 1959-61 was the hardest time of life
    • Ate
    • Corn
    • Da Mi (大米)
    • Xiao Mai (小麦)
    • Bing (饼)
  • 1963, lifestyle became better
  • Now the eat
    • nuo mi (糯米)
    • Baba (粑粑)
    • Noodles
  • Release (解放期)
    • Ate
      • Niu She Baba (牛舌粑粑)
      • Pao Cai (泡菜)
      • WanDou Fen (豌豆粉)
  • Used to make Baba at home
    • It takes too much time and effort
    • So locals just buy it fro vendors
    • Process is very sophisticated
      • Yeast in dough needs to rise overnight
  • LiJiang Baba
    • Different
      • It is a lot bigger
      • Uses less oil
      • Also different material
Mr. Zhao (Old man at XiZhou Baba Shop) [11]
  • Weddings
    • They eat BaDa Wan (八大碗)
  • Roasted XiZhou Baba was too hot
    • Ate it when he was young
  • He likes the steamed Baba
    • More soft and easy to eat
  • Sweet Baba tastes better
    • Suits his body more
Ms. Zhao (Old town snacks owner) [12]
  • There was only one yogurt shop
    • Tourists came and more places started to sell
  • Tafel fried rice was because of Mr. T
    • Wanted to add soy sauce, carrots, pork, and onions to fried rice
    • It turned out to be really tasty
      • So Mr. T requested it to be on the menu and they added it
  • There were only 2 XiZhou Baba stands when they started
    • More tourists came
    • XiZhou Baba was very popular
      • More people decided to sell it
    • Original shops
      • One near JinHua Fan Dian
      • Other one is near Old town Snacks
      • Another on the road from SiFang Jie to BaoCheng Fu
  • The oldest shop here is SiFang Jie Fan Dian
    • It is their own house
      • They do not have to pay rent
  • There are not much changes in the menu aside from Tafel Fried Rice
  • There are also more restaurants at SiFang Jie
Ms. Dong (JinHua Fan Dian Owner) [13]
  • They used to sell XiZhou Baba
    • Not enough people working
  • Ate grass at hardest times of life
    • Grabbed it out of ground
    • Wiped it and ate it
  • Also ate
    • Corn
    • Rice
    • Chang Dou (长豆)
      • At hardest times of life
  • The food now tastes a lot better
  • They like the sweet XiZhou baba better
    • Tastes good when hot or cold
    • Salty one tastes good when hot
  • Now
    • A lot more variety of food
    • A lot more shops at SiFang Jie
Mr. Yang (XiZhou Baba Vendor) [14]
  • Sold XiZhou Baba for about 30 years
  • Did not sell Rose Sugar (玫瑰糖)
    • Only came in recent years
    • Used to make Rose Sugar (玫瑰糖) at home
    • But did not sell
      • Until people started to be more interested in it
      • Want more
  • There are rose fields
    • Provided them with roses needed to make Rose Sugar
    • It is all handmade
  • Rose Sugar (玫瑰糖) in their XiZhou Baba is made themselves
    • Do not buy from other places
  • Used to be under the tree at SiFang Jie
    • Now moved back in front of their home
    • For about 12 years now
Ms. Yan (XiZhou Baba Vendor) [15]
  • Used to only have Red Sugar (红糖) in Xizhou Baba
    • Rose sugar came in more recent years
    • Also Sesame (芝麻)
  • Did not put meat in Xizhou Baba
    • Only onion
    • and pig oil
  • Egg is also just added these few years
  • Used to sell 5rmb for 3 baba
    • Now they sell 10rmb for one to tourists
    • 8 RMB for locals
  • They make more profit
    • Do not need to pay rent because it is their home
  • Origin
    • Horse Trail
    • Invented it for people to eat along the road
      • Easy and fast to make
      • Easy to heat up and tastes good
  • He likes Sweet one better
  • Passed down by experiencing it themselves
  • He learns from his wife
    • Wife learns from him
  • Uses charcoal to cook
    • when demands are high
    • Use two bags
      • 160kg
  • Got used to smell and dust
    • From charcoal
  • Shop used to be under tree
    • Moved in front of house after stone gate was made
Ms. Zhang (XiZhou Baba vendor) [16]
  • Had this shop for a long time
    • About 100 years
  • Her son
    • The 5th generation making XiZhou Baba
  • XiZhou Baba used to only have red sugar
    • Added rose sugar about 7-8 years ago
  • She has been to Shanghai before
    • To perform their 3 dao cha
    • Then went to HangZhou to do the same
  • They rented out most of their house (revenue)
    • Bought for their house/revenue for 6 thousand
    • Now it is about 6,000,000
  • They made huge moon cakes before
    • 10 times bigger than a normal moon cakes in Shanghai
    • They sell it during Mid-Autumn Festival
  • Opens at 8-9
    • Closes depending on how many people buy XiZhou Baba
    • If there are a lot of people
      • make more and sell
    • When there is not a lot of people
      • Stop making
      • Try to sell the ones left
  • She learned by watching her mom
    • She did not even need her mom to teach
  • After learning
    • Started sell near tree at SiFang Jie
  • It is so thick
    • Because they need to fill their belly’s
    • Makes you full
  • Used to not cook it on the day they are selling XiZhou Baba
    • Cooked a day before at home
    • Heat it up next day when selling
  • Has cousins selling next door
  • Used to have a really good popsicle shop next door
    • Popsicles used to be ice with a bit of sugar
  • Grandma was part of the Yang family
    • But now their surname is Zhang
  • Only three shops were from before the liberation
  • They say their XiZhou Baba tastes the best
    • Taiwanese person came and bought 5 XiZhou Baba from different places
    • He came to a conclusion that theirs was the best
  • If other people want to learn
    • she will teach them but not everything
      • Special tips and tricks
  • They never had a shortage of supply
  • Makes their own red bean paste (豆沙)
    • and rose sugar (玫瑰糖)
  • Uses about 100-200 pounds charcoal everyday
    • When demands of XiZhou Baba are high
  • Sometimes only uses around 10 pounds
    • When demands are low
  • Most expensive thing out of supplies is charcoal
    • 2 rmb every pound
  • Has a huge house/room just to put charcoal
  • Buys 1-2 tons everytime
  • The price of flour has also grown
  • Price of Baba is grown according to market
    • All these vendors just got to the same price
    • Do not care about others
    • Just sell their own
  • Knew she was going to make Baba when she was young
    • Watched her mom do it
  • She was not really good at making Baba when she just started
    • Ther were all different sizes
    • Sugar would spill out
    • She ate the ones that she could not sell
  • She was not particularly excited or happy to make Baba and do it for a living
    • Just a duty she would take on
  • She could not go to college or high school
    • Can not have a better job
    • This is the best job possible
      • Earns a lot of money
      • Lots of people like to eat it
  • Now she likes her job
    • Nothing better to do
  • Always working and thinking about bringing her family up
  • The house costs now about 6,000,000
    • can easily earn that money in 5-6 years of selling Baba
  • These days when there are not a lot of tourists
    • they sell 100-200 Baba per day
  • When it is a holiday or when there are a lot of tourists
    • They can sell about 500-600 with one pan
    • 1000 or so with 2 pans
      • and 2 people making Baba
  • Is happy for her son to do this
    • But her son does not like this
  • He wants to do something else
    • Wants to go to America
  • He barely knows how to make Baba
    • He is not into it
    • Will not learn
  • He is only there helping bake the Baba
Ms. Ma (Bakery uphill from SiFang Jie ) [17]
  • Makes all sweets by herself
  • Opens at about 8-9
  • Makes Rose Sugar
    • Makes it in May when there are roses
    • Keeps made ones
      • sells until next May
  • Used to add rose sugar in everything
    • Now they do not
    • To suit customers
  • Mei Gui Bing (玫瑰饼) was added these few years
  • She is part of the Hui Minority Group
    • So she does not eat pork
  • She is not picky about her food
    • Eats all sorts of vegetables
  • Learned to make Baba when young
  • Had shop for 40 years
  • She loves to eat sweet things
  • Sells steamed XiZhou Baba
    • Only sweet ones
    • And Old style salty ones
      • Without pork
      • Pork is too expensive
  • Sells rose sugar
    • Not a lot of people buy it at this time of the year
    • Not a lot of tourists
  • Will not pass her skills to her son
    • He is working outside the village
  • Retiring in a few years
  • Does not want to stay at home all day
    • Very boring
    • Will make her sick
      • So makes sweets and sells them
  • Used to sell popsicles
    • Did not fit with space and her shop so stopped
Costumer at Baba shop (Shop uphill from SiFang Jie ) [18]
  • From Zhe Jiang (浙江)
  • She has never ate XiZhou Baba before
  • She found this shop because of a friend
    • They reccomended this specific shop
  • She bought both types of XiZhou Baba
    • To try the taste of both
Costumer at Baba shop (Shop at a corner near Old town Snacks) [19]
  • He also never ate XiZhou Baba before
  • Their friends reccomended them to try some
    • Said all the shops at SiFang Jie taste good
  • Restaurant owner they ate lunch at reccomended the place
    • Said it was the most traditional
    • Oldest one
  • They also bought both types
    • Because they wanted to try both flavors
Ms. Duan (XiZhou Baba shop on the Highway) [20]
  • Started about 10 years ago
  • Learned from watching others when she was young
    • Self taught
  • Likes her job
    • Also does it because she can not read or write words
  • There are no changes within the 10 years
    • Always these shops
  • When they eat at home
    • Only dough nothing else
  • Sweet
    • It used to be only red sugar
    • Now there is rose sugar (玫瑰糖)
  • Salty
    • Only onions and sesame oil
    • Now there is eggs and meat
  • Never thought of trying to add new things
    • Keep the traditional values
  • Personally likes salty one better
  • The amount of salty and Sweet baba sold is about the same
  • From a village near Er Hai (Lake)
  • Starts selling at 7 am
    • Closing time
    • Depends on how many customers
  • Sells about 100-200 Baba when there are a lot of people
  • Making Baba
    • Let dough rise throughout night
    • Take about half of dough made
    • Fold it with a bit of water lots of times
    • Take all the dough and dump it onto table
      • Table is filled with flour
    • Fold it a few more times
    • Use knife to cut a big piece out
    • Move the piece to the centre of the table
      • Move flour to the side
    • Fold a few more times
    • Cut into 4 parts
      • Evenly
    • Add pig oil
    • Pull a few times
    • Add sugars
      • Or onions
    • If salty
      • Use knife to make cuts
      • Twist the dough
      • Press down
      • Add pork
    • Use roller and make it flat
    • Bake
Mr. Wei (XiZhou Baba shop on the Highway) [21]
  • Sold for 10 years or so
  • Does not sell in SiFang Jie because there is not space for them
  • They sell it for 5-6
    • Sifang Jie sells for about 10
  • Price is different because it is a different place
    • Different rent price
    • Sells according to price of materials
  • Most customers who get stuff here are people who pass by
    • Some locals
  • Uses about 80 pounds of charcoal
  • People from the north like salty ones
  • People from east like sweet
    • Like Shanghai
  • Learned from watching and doing it when he was young
  • Tried to put other things but it does not taste that good
  • Likes his work
    • For economical purposes
Ms. Yang (XiZhou Baba vendor) [22]
  • 4th Generation
    • One of the original shops
  • Does not like her work
    • Which is making XiZhou Baba
    • But has to do it for economic reasons
  • They have a different way of making XiZhou Baba
    • Puts meat inside dough not on top
    • Adds another ingredient to make it smell and taste better
  • The texture of the sweet XiZhou Baba is very different
  • In a book
    • says it is the one of the best XiZhou Baba
    • It also says it was made in 1865
  • Salty one is best ate hot
  • Sweet one tastes good both hot and cold
  • Learned how to make XiZhou Baba from ancestors
Customer at Baba Shop (Customer at Ms. Yang's XiZhou Baba Shop) [23]
  • Never ate Baba
    • So he wanted to try
  • Came here because it was first place he saw
  • Knows that XiZhou Baba is very famous here
  • Bought both salty and sweet ones
Customer at Baba Shop (Customer at Ms. Yang's XiZhou Baba Shop) [24]
  • Ate Baba a lot of times
  • Lived in Dali for half a year
    • From Nanjing
  • Ate Baba at Xia Guan (下关)
    • The Baba is smaller
    • Costs 4rmb
    • Does not like taste
    • In SiFang Jie, it costs 10 RMB for a salty one
      • 15rmb for a sweet one
  • Husband likes salty one
    • She does not care
    • Her girl friends like the sweet one
  • Her husband bought Baba at the highway area for 5
    • Tastes ok
    • Better than Xia Guan
  • Does not think she has eat at this shop
    • At least did not eat the sweet ones
  • Taking it back home and heating it up with oven
    • Eating it for breakfast
  • Bought both salty and sweet ones
Customer at Baba Shop (Customer at Ms. Yang's XiZhou Baba Shop) [25]
  • Found Baba on Da Zhong Dian Ping (大众点评: Chinese yelp)
  • Saw a lot of people at this stand
    • So came here to buy Baba
  • Never ate it
    • Only got salty one
Customer at Baba Shop (Customer at Ms. Yang's XiZhou Baba Shop) [25]
  • Found Baba on Da Zhong Dian Ping (Chinese yelp)
  • Saw a lot of people at this stand
    • So came here to buy Baba
  • Never ate it
  • Only got salty one
Mr. Yang (XiZhou Baba Vendor) [25]
  • About 300 Baba shops in village and highways
  • Likes his work
  • Learned from elders
    • The elders did not sell Baba
      • Only made it at home
  • He was the one that started selling Baba
Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1):

There are the questions from Phase 1 with answers after coming out here in XiZhou. Some questions are tweaked, taken away or added based on the information I have from my talks with the locals.


1. What are some of the stories behind XiZhou Baba?

It was invented for the Tea Horse Trail. They needed food that is easily made and fills up our belly. It is thick and has a lot of fat so that the people who pass by on the Tea Horse Trail. It is also easy to heat up therefore, it can be warm and hot when they eat it. The salty and sweet filling makes it taste good instead of plain dough.

2. What were the influences on Er Kuai?

I took away question 2 because I did not ask about Er Kuai because I decided to focus on XiZhou Baba and changes in the food here.

3. Were there outside influences on the food in XiZhou?

The food I studied might have some outside influences because it was invented before China was closed off from the rest of the world. This means that there was still trade which could bring in new ingredients to make new food. The XiZhou Baba was invented in 1865 which was before China was closed off, so it might have outside influences especially since it was for the Tea Horse Trail which is a trade route.

4. What are the legends and stories behind the foods served in the festivals? How did it influence the festivals?

I took away question 4 because I did not focus on festivals and influences. I looked more into changes and specific types of food.


5. What are some of the oldest foods in XiZhou?

The oldest foods in XiZhou are mostly eaten all around China but the special food for XiZhou that was invented is so far as I know the XiZhou Baba. It was invented in 1865 according to Ms. Yang. Er Kuai and Er Si might be older than XiZhou Baba, but I focused my research on XiZhou Baba and so I do not know much about Er Kuai and Er Si.

6. What are some of the oldest festivals there? and what foods are served?

I have not looked into festivals but I know that they do celebrate the national holidays like Tomb Sweeping Day, Chinese New Year, and Mid-Autumn Festival. I did not look closely into festivals and so I do not have much information about it. The food served on those festivals are the same in Shanghai or anywhere else in China. For the Mid-Autumn festival, I know they have moon cakes but they are about 7-10 times the size compared to the ones in Shanghai.


7. How have the foods in XiZhou right now changed over the years? Why?

There now is a large variety of food. They used to have a scarce amount of food because of the Liberation, Wars, and the Reform of China, but after 1965, the food got better and more plentiful. Also, there are a lot more shops that sell yogurt and XiZhou Baba. The XiZhou Baba has also added more ingredients inside.

8. What are the values of the foods in XiZhou? And has any story or legend change the value of that food?

I took away question 8 because no one talked about the value of food in XiZhou and how the value of food changed. It also is not relevant to what I focused on out here.

Passing the Stories/Legends

9. How were the legends and stories of these foods passed down?

I took away question 9 and changed it (look below for what I changed it to). This was not really well worded for what I focused on out here. I saw how skills and stories were passed down. I do not have much to say about only legends and stories.

9.How are skills and stories of food passed down?

These legends and stories are usually told to the younger ones or written down in books. They also learn the skills to make food, by watching their parents do it. It is always when the elders of the family tell the younger ones and so they know the story behind whatever they are making. Then the next generation will learn that way too.

10. What are some stories about the foods in XiZhou that is still passed down today?

XiZhou Baba as said above is made because of the Tea Horse Trail. This is still passed through families so that they all know how XiZhou Baba is invented. Some of the people I talked to are the next generations of the inventors of XiZhou Baba. Most families used to make XiZhou Baba at home, but now because of tourists, they start selling them.

Added Questions

11. How long will the making of XiZhou Baba go on?

I think there will always be people who are making XiZhou Baba because of tourists but I do not think there will be as many shops as there is now. People are starting to go out of the village to work. Therefore, the next generation will not have a lot of people still in this town but I think there will always be people. Ms. Ma's son is out of town for work and she is closing the shop in a few years. She said that her son will not have these skills of baking and continue the shop.

12. How did XiZhou Baba change over the years?

When XiZhou Baba was just invented, they did not have all the filling they do now. The sweet Baba came first, then the salty one but they came around the same time. Also, the sweet one never had red bean paste and rose sugar. It only had red sugar. They added the red bean paste and rose sugar around 7 to 8 years ago. For the salty one, it used to only have onions. In the past 7 to 8 years, they added meat and in the last 3 year or so they added eggs.

13. Has anyone considered to change XiZhou Baba in these few years?

Yes. They added meat, rose sugar, and red bean paste in the past years. After those ingredients have been added, no one has tried any new ingredients because tourists will think theirs is not traditional. Also because some have tried at home but they say it does not taste good. They also do not want to use ovens instead of pans with charcoal because tourists will think it tastes different because it is not the traditional method but it actually does not.

1. T., Jie Ling. "Phase 3: Interpreting Information." Shanghai American School | MICROCAMPUS. N.p., 2016. Web. 19 Jan. 2017. <>.
2. "Festivals in China." Chinese Festivals. N.p., Nov. 2016. Web. 19 Jan. 2017. <>.
3. N.a. "Yi Torch Festival, China Style." 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2017. <>
4. "Shanghai American School." Shanghai American School | MICROCAMPUS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <>.
5. F., Ivy. "Golden Flower." Xizhou Food Journey. Weebly, Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <>.
6. F., Ivy. "Old Town Snacks." Xizhou Food Journey. Weebly, Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2017. <>.
7. F., Ivy. "Erkuai." Xizhou Food Journey. Weebly, Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2017. <>.
8. F., Ivy. "Xizhou Baba." Xizhou Food Journey. Weebly, Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2017. <>.
9. X., Jerry. "Phase 3: Interpreting Information." Shanghai American School | MICROCAMPUS. N.p., Jan. 2017. Web. 07 Feb. 2017. <>.
10. Zhao. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 8, 2017
11. Zhao. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 8, 2017
12. Zhao. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 9, 2017
13. Dong. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 9, 2017
14. Yang. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 10, 2017
15. Yan. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 10, 2017
16. Zhang. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 13, 2017
17. Ma. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 13, 2017
18. Customer, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 14, 2017
19. Customer, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 14, 2017
20. Duan, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 15, 2017
21. Wei, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 15, 2017
22. Yang. Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 16, 2017
23. Customer, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 16, 2017
24. Customer, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 16, 2017
25. Customer, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 16, 2017
26. Yang, Personal Interview conducted by Annie Y., Mar 16, 2017
In this Phase, we gathered information from various different places. I have information from websites and my talks with the locals. I also used the information I got to answer my questions from Phase 1 with some changes to it. In Phase 4 I will be planning my final project. I will be making a plan on how to report my findings and the most important information I got from this Phase.


My name is Annie Y. I am part of the Superior Microcampus group. As of March 4, 2017, I arrived in Xizhou. We stayed in Xizhou for 28 days. Those 28 days has been such a unforgettable experience. I got to connect with the people here. They were very nice and welcoming. The weather was really nice. There was pretty blue skies and puffy white clouds. I miss everything about Xizhou and the Microcampus experience.