A day in Wuhan: Experience the breakfast culture of “guozao”

Hello, everyone!
I am Hannah. Right now, I am in Wuhan. The breakfast here
is something pretty special. What’s really interesting is that the people in Wuhan
call breakfast “guozao,” which can be loosely translated as “savor the morning.” Wuhan is known for its breakfast choices. It is no exaggeration to say that you can have different breakfasts every morning for a whole month. No wonder Wuhan is called “the city of breakfast.” To taste the “guozao” of Wuhan, today, I will be working
as a kitchen helper in two different restaurants. Yes! You heard me right! I’ll have the chance to make some local specialties for breakfast, and this restaurant will be my first stop! It’s nearly 6 o’clock in the morning and the kitchen staff have already started their preparations. Let’s get this day started! Mrs. Wu, morning! Morning! You can first learn how to
make regan noodles. Regan noodles is the first option of breakfast for people in Wuhan. So today, I will teach you how to make it. Okay. Add MSG, carrots and a half spoon of soy sauce. Don’t add too much,
or it will be salty. This is for me, right? Thank you! Mmm… It’s so yummy. I mean I can smell
the strong flavor of the sesame. It tastes super rich. It’s my first time to try this actually. On a scale of zero to ten I’d give this an eight! I was just watching her
make regan noodles, or hot dry noodles with sesame paste. It took her less than a minute. It doesn’t seem too hard. Mrs. Wu, I think it’s easy
for me to learn this. Emm… Don’t be so confident. It’s not that hard but it’s not easy for beginners. You can have a try. Can I make a bowl of regan noodles for you? Can I help you? It’s fine. Is it good? It’s my first time to make regan noodles. Is it delicious? Good! Tasty! Well, before I actually
tried making regan noodles, I thought it looked really easy, but the kneading skills
turned out hard to master and the right ratio of flour and water was tricky to achieve. It takes practice to be able to make regan noodles. I just saw a local eating what looked a bit like doughnut for breakfast. It looks so tasty. I think I’m going to have to learn how to make it! Let’s go! Hold it like this. Do you want one or two? See, this is what I made and this is (what) my chef made. Oh my God, it is so ugly. But anyway, it’s my baby, my first baby. I just tried my Chinese doughnut here. It tastes amazing! Easily 10 out of 10, because I made it myself. Chef, I think the Chinese doughnuts are quite filling and it’s so cheap. It only costs 1.5 Yuan ($0.2 USD) to buy one. The sticky rice chicken is cheap too, only 2 Yuan ($0.28 USD) a piece. This is one of the characteristics
of Wuhan breakfast. Since Wuhan is a port city, the dockworkers here tend to choose the food which is cheap and quite filling. So, I just learned many local cultural stories behind Wuhan’s breakfast traditions in this restaurant. Wuhan is located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and is therefore full of dockworkers. Being a dockworker is a very physical job, so breakfast in Wuhan is easy to prepare and quite filling. Boss, you did a hard job . Hi, how was your day? I think some people have breakfast very early. Lots of customers stood
on the street to have breakfast. Yes. People in Wuhan prefer
having breakfast outside instead of making breakfast at home. So, I should not greet people by saying “have you had your breakfast?” but by saying “have you had guozao?” Have you had guozao? Have you had guozao? Bye! So, I just said goodbye to the owner of this restaurant, Mrs. Chen. She told me that due to the large variety of breakfast foods in Wuhan and the speed at which they can be prepared, very few people here make breakfast at home. In the morning, there are a lot of people queuing up for breakfast. Every morning, people greet one another by asking, “Have you had guozao?” This is my second stop. It’s different from the first restaurant, which was full of locals. Located in the historic Hubu Alley, this restaurant is
frequented largely by tourists. I heard this restaurant is really special. Let’s go and check it out! Morning, boss! Hi! Have you had breakfast? No, I’ve been waiting for
tasting your soup buns. What do you think of this soup bun? I think they are very beautiful. What is the purple one? This soup bun is made of purple sweet potatoes. I want to learn to make these colorful soup buns. Okay, you can. Okay. This is the boss of this restaurant. He has run this restaurant for nearly 10 years now. He is gonna teach me how to make soup buns today. I’m so excited about it. Let’s go! Okay! What should we do now? Now, we make the wrapper of the soup buns. First, we roll the dough into wrappers. Alright. Let’s start with the green one. One, two, three. Start. One, two, three, four. See, you always roll over half the wrapper. See this? It’s rolled only three times. As you can see, the center of the wrapper is
thicker than the rest of it so that the soup buns
will not break after steaming. Yours is too even, like a quilt. Take your time. Not bad! This one is better than the last one. You are making quick progress. What score can I get? I will give you a 90. Okay, this one is ready. Mr. Cheng, are there soup buns in Jiangsu and Zhejiang areas too? What’s the difference between the soup buns in different places? The soup buns in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai taste sweeter, while the soup buns of Wuhan taste lightly salty. Lightly salty. Put some fillings on the wrapper. Then press it. Pleat it multiple times, until it’s all pleated. You need to squeeze it. I feel kind of guilty right now, actually, because it’s really ugly. Okay, should I continue? Eh… I think you’d better watch and learn from us. Is that OK? Okay. The soup buns are ready! Okay! I think my soup buns are a bit beautiful! Do you like them? The color is beautiful! You can lift up this bun. 30 centimeters, 40 centimeters, 50 centimeters. Then drop it. One, two, three! Let it go. It did not break. If it is broken, my customer can ask me for another batch of steamed soup buns. For free. Pick it up gently and move slowly. Open a “side window” and let the soup flow. Em, good. So, can I take the other soup buns away? Yeah, of course. I am going to have this breakfast
while I’m walking, just like the people in Wuhan. Yes, you need to experience the breakfast culture of Wuhan: one greeting, one action. The greeting is “have you had guozao?” Have you had guozao? Yes. Then, experience the breakfast culture: having breakfast while walking on the street. It tastes just so good. So, after spending a day as a kitchen helper in Wuhan, I can really see why they call breakfast “guozao.” “Guozao” is not just about eating food, but also about getting yourself pumped for the day ahead. As people in Wuhan will surely agree, there are few better ways to start your day on a right note than a hearty breakfast, and with so many choices here
it’s hard to go wrong.

One Comment

  1. PP C. said:

    And excellent breakfast.. my favorites😋😋😋

    November 28, 2019

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