Icy weather offers warming treats

By Zhang Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-06 06:16
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Artwork by Wang Xiaoying and Sun Yue. [Photo/China Daily]

A visit to the Houzaimen fresh market in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, reveals a dazzling array of choices for cured meat, especially during this time of the year. The locals follow the tradition of pickling vegetables during Minor Snow, and meat during Major Snow, or daxue, the 21st traditional solar term out of the entire 24, which falls on Wednesday this year.

Most of the shoppers are similarly intoxicated by the variety of cured meat and sausages on display. A vendor surnamed Chen told Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp that he sold 5,000 kilograms of cured meat last year. The peak season for this year is yet to come, as the current first batch is fresh on the market and needs to be marinated for half a month before reaching its premium tasting time.

His handmade sausages cater to the tastes of young and old alike. Three years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Chen often commanded half-hour lines during the evening peak hours. Chen says he can only take individual orders at the moment, but not for large quantities. The suitable temperature for drying the meat should be around 0 C on sunny days.

The chill December wind blows in a delightful salty and smoked fragrance from lines of stalls here in this down-to-earth market. In the early years, people pickled food to lock in the freshness with salt, but today, with improved livelihoods, cured meat is still the sweetest hometown memory for many locals.

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