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Light refreshments and pastry of great variety and meticulously made have a long history in China. The origin of Chinese pastry can be traced back to the Neolithic Age when the stone grinder was invented to make the grinding of grain possible. During the Spring and Autumn periods (770-476BC), there were oil-fried pastry and steamed pastries such as honey cake, Yishi, Shenshi (made of grounded grains of cereal crops), and Junu (a ring-shaped oil-fried food).

Later, with the development of cooking utensils and kitchen wares, Chinese pastry gradually enriched its raw materials, techniques and varieties, and many popular local light refreshments appeared. In North China, there are dumplings, noodles, hand-pulled noodles, pancakes and steamed stuffed buns; in South China, there are Shaomai, spring roll, Zongzi (pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves), Yuanxiao (glutinous rice dumpling with special fillings) and Youtiao (deep fried dough stick). In addition, many light refreshments with local characteristics have been created, making use of particular local products and customs. Here taking Beijing as an example.

There are a great variety of snacks in Beijing. In addition to traditional ones, such as Jiaoquan (slightly browned dough ring), Mi Mahua (honeyed twisted fried dough), Wandou Huang (pea flour cake), Ai Wowo (steamed corn bread flavored with aromatic herbs), Douzhi (a fermented Soya-bean milk), Chaogan (Quick-fried liver), Bingtanghulu (candied haws on a stick), and so on. Many other snacks have been introduced into the capital from different regions, making Beijing a place with mixture of snack foods from the north, south, east and west.

You may have snacks in most restaurants, especially those that open in the morning serving breakfast. In the evening, there are two food streets bristling with small stalls selling various kinds of snacks. One is at Donghuamen (East Flowery Gate), an east-west street crossing Wangfujing and about a hundred yard west of the Palace Hotel. The other is at Longfusi Market Street near Dongsi. If you are tired of big meals in the hotels, you could go there to have some light snacks.

Below is a list of other places serving some of the most famous local pastries and light refreshments:

Shanghai: Xiekehuang (fried ovary and digestive glands of a crab), Nanxiang steamed bread, and Shaoxing chicken porridge.

Tianjin: Gabacai (a kind of crisp cake with vegetables), Goubuli steamed stuffed buns, ear-shaped fried cake, bread stewed with mini-fish, Bangchui pancake, Guifaxiang twisted fried dough, and spiced donkey meat.

Sichuan: roast cake with egg, Long Chaoshou, Dandan noodles (a kind of noodles with peppery sauce), Lai's Tangyuan (glutinous rice dumpling), cold noodles with shredded chicken, transparent Shaomai, Yibing ran-noodles, Fuqi (meaning "husband and wife", the inventor of this dish being a couple) sliced pig's lung, steamed beef with corn powder, and Dengying (meaning "shade of a lamp") beef.

Fujian: oyster pancake, noodles to be eaten with the fingers, spiced pork trotters, and Dingbian thick paste.

Zhejiang: buttered pancake, Double Ninth chestnut cake, Zhongzi stuffed with fresh meat, noodles with shrimp and eel, Ninbo glutinous rice dumpling, black rice of eight treasures.

Shandong: oil-fried stuffed buns.

Guangdong: chicken cake, preserved egg shortbread, a-thousand-layer shortbread with frozen meat, Guangdong moon cake, lotus seed paste in crisp pastry, steamed hedgehog stuffed buns, Fenguo, dumplings with fresh shrimp filling, examination-success porridge, steamed Shaomai with the ovary and digestive glands of crabs, and white rabbit shaped dumplings.

steamed stuffed buns filled with three kinds of diced delicacies

Jiangsu: baked wheaten cake with sesame and chopped scallion, Tangbao (small-sized steamed stuffed buns), steamed stuffed buns filled with three kinds of diced delicacies, and Shaomai with the ovary and digestive glands of crabs.

Anhui: Nuts and dried fruit Laba porridge, Dajiujia, Huizhou cake, and rice with bean curd peel.

Hunan: new rice, rice-flour noodles, tortoise-mutton eight-treasure soup, and strong smelling bean curd.

Hubei: bean curd peel with three delicacies, Yunmeng fried noodles with fish flavor, hot dried noodles, and Dongpo cake.

Xi'an: dried bread soaked in mutton (or beef) soup, and Qianzhou cake.

Yunnan: Guoqiao rice noodles, pot stewed beef with pastry, etc.

Henan: bread with jujube, bread browned with white sugar, egg hop-pocket, Xue tea, and shredded chicken roll.

Taiyuan: Kaolao, knife-shaved noodles, and Jiupian.

Lanzhou: hand-stretched noodles, and oil-fried large pancake.

Xinjiang: roast pancake of wheat or corn flour, roast mutton (or beef) slices, rice eaten with fingers.

Taiwan: Du Xiaoyue Danzai noodles, noodles with sliced eel, and Jinzhua rice-flour noodles.

Hainan: Jiandui, rice cooked in bamboo utensils, etc.

Guangxi: Guilin rice-flour noodles with horse meat, pyramid-shaped meat dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves, and fried earthworm-shaped noodles.

Guizhou: noodles with intestines, Si Wawa, Yelang dough fish, and steamed (or fried) glutinous rice paste wrapped in lotus leaves.

Apart from those enumerated above, many light refreshments with ethnic characteristics have been merged into the daily food of the ordinary Chinese, greatly enriching the contents of Chinese culinary culture. 

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