Beijing Local Custom Tips by Willettsworld Top 5 Page for this destination
Beijing Local Customs: 239 reviews and 304 photos
In ancient China people divided the night into five Gengs. A Geng was an ancient time unit used to divide the night, every Geng marked a Shichen (another time division unit which is the equivalent to two hours). The first Geng came at dusk and was called Xu (dog) (from 19:00-21:00) also known as the Ding Geng; the second Geng, marking the time people settled down for sleep, was called Hai (pig) Shi (from 21:00-23:00); the third Geng, Zi (rat) Shi, signalled the middle of the night (from 23:00-01:00); the fourth Geng was called Chou (ox) Shi (from 01:00-03:00); and Yin (tiger) Shi (from 03:00-05:00) which was the fifth Geng, also called the Liang Geng, marked the dawn of a new day. When the Ding Geng and Liang Geng were announced, the drum was to be beaten first, followed by the striking of the bell. When the second, third and fourth Geng were announced, only the bell was struck. As the bell of the first Geng (Xu Shi or Ding Geng) sounded every night, the gate of the city was closed and the traffic was stopped, which was called Jingjie which means "clearing the streets".
The Wangfujing Night Market has a selection of exotic Street food on the Snack Street. Deep fried insects, scorpions, and sea creatures can be found, along with other animals and animal parts not ordinarily consumed as food in the west. Because of this, the stalls are a bit of a novelty for both us westerners and, also, for Chinese. You'll find a great number of people pulling horrible faces at what’s on offer plus those daring to try one of the sticks that contains an insect (which can be still moving!). All of this means that it's also a big draw for having your photo taken with people handing insect sticks near their mouths!
It is thought that Beijing roast duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe on festive occasions. Westerners like Marco Polo brought certain European customs to China and may have introduced the concept of roasting poultry to their Chinese hosts during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368). Ducks had long been domesticated in China and the plump ducks proved to be an excellent substitute for goose. However, there is another school of thought based upon certain records that show roast duck has a much longer history dating back as far as the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 - 589). Up until the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279), ducks were roasted in the area around Jinling, today's Nanjing. However, the later Yuan Dynasty rulers moved their capital city to Beijing from Jinling and took with them their cuisine thus making roast duck popular in the city that was eventually to make it its very own specialty.
Firstly, a suitable White Beijing Duck will be chosen for preparation. After the bird has been plucked, air is pumped between its skin and flesh. A small incision is made for the removal of the entrails.
Secondly, and once the bird has been thoroughly cleaned, a wooden skewer is inserted through it to facilitate its hanging and ultimate heating; the body cavity is filled with water and the incision that had been made is closed.
Thirdly, the skin of the duck is air dried and brushed with a layer of sugar.
Fourthly, the duck is then put into a large oven, using a smokeless hardwood fuel and heating to about 270 degrees Centigrade for 30 to 40 minutes. The duck is turned frequently during the roasting process to ensure even cooking.
Then the delicious roast duck is ready! It will be a shining date-red in colour and unique in flavour. Your chef will then carve it in front of you and place the meat on your table.
The way to really enjoy the succulent meat is as follows: first take one of the small, thin pancakes provided and spread it with plum sauce, small slices of spring onions and then add some pieces of duck. Finally roll up the pancake, take a bite and enjoy!
The harmonious principle of yin and yang is the key to Chinese design. As odd numbers represent yang (the preferred masculine element associated with the emperor), the numbers three, five, seven, and the ultimate odd number - nine, recur in architectural details. It is said that the Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms and, as nine times nine is especially fortunate, the doors for imperial use usually contain 81 brass studs.
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