With the community kitchen breaks for summer, I’m resuming my travel to Beijing series.
When I was in Beijing in the late fall, one of the popular street snacks is sugar coated delicacies. They are various fruit like hawthorne berries, crabapples, water chestnuts, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, etc that is placed on skewers and bathed in rock sugar syrup that hardens into a shiny candy coating.
On day 6, we decided it should be a rest day after five days of heavy walking. We leisurely stroll the street and intended to go to a book store to look for some culinary books for a friend. There is one bookstore on WangFuJing of 7 stories high. It is very big. We even came across a couple of staff having competition retrieving books from a rack based on a list to test their knowledge of how the books are organised.
On the way to the book store, we came upon one of those street vendors who sell sugar coated delicacies.
This one that we came across seemed to be an old Beijing brand. The history of this snack can be dated back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The story is about a concubine of Emperor Guangzong who fell seriously sick and the court physicians failed to find an effective treatment. But one day a doctor from outside the court volunteered to try and cured the concubine’s illness. The prescription for the concubine’s illness is …to eat five to 10 sugar coated haw before each meal. The concubine miraculously recovered from her illness and the sugar coated haw as a healthy food quickly spread among the common people.
Although there are new fruit additions to the traditional sugar coated haw (bing tang hu lu), I prefer to try the traditional haw. The sourish haw blends well with the sweet crunchy sugar coating.
Sugar coated haw is a must try street snack in Beijing. The sugar coated haw from this street cart costs RMB3 (about 0.50) each. I will prefer a healthy snack like this anytime.
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Did you find the haws were a little bit moldy inside?
Our friend took us searching for traditional haw… He was lamenting a little how these old-style snacks were becoming harder to find. Or at least, it was getting harder to find properly-made, good quality ones, using old-style fruits like haw rather than newer, more trendy choices.
I also thought the sour haw was a good match with the candy coating, but was disappointed to find that about half my haws were a little bit moldy at the centre. 🙁