By Chelsea Chen
There is a delicious traditional snack food in China named “Tanghulu,” or “Bingtanghulu”. In general, Bingtanghulu has a good taste, an easy creation method, and a cheap cost. Perhaps for these reasons, it is very famous and popular in China. Actually, you can find it in many cities of China, but the best place to try it is in the capital city of China, Beijing. If you go to Beijing, you can go to a street named Wangfujin, where you can find best Bingtanghulu and other delicious traditional Chinese snack food.
Bingtanghulu does not only have a good taste, it also has a very interesting story behind its popularity. The story is about a Chinese king of the Southern Song dynasty named Zhaoting (AD1147-1200). He was the third child of Song Guangzong and the third king of the Southern Song dynasty. In Chinese history, most people know that every Chinese king had many wives. However, Zhaoting was a Chinese king with one of the most feared wives in history, a concubine named Huang. She was sick and no doctor in the palace could cure her. Therefore, she became more thin and pallid by the day. The king was so worried about his favorite wife, he invited doctors from all over to attend to her.
Some time later, there was a doctor who went to the palace and he said he had a good cure for his wife. The king did not believe this doctor, but he had no choice. The doctor told the king, you only need to put hawthorn and crystal sugar together over a fire, wait for the sugar color to change to yellow, and then move the results out into a bowl. After that, you can eat this food when it becomes cold and hard, and eat around five to ten pieces after every meal. The doctor told the king that his wife will have a quick recovery and good body in half a month if she followed these instructions. Unexpectedly, Huang was really no longer sick after half a month. The king was so happy with this that he gave a rich reward to this doctor. After that, people outside the palace heard this story, and everyone studied and ate this food in their homes. People began cooking and selling it for people who did not want to cook in their home. Because business men did not want to wash bowls and spoons, they used bamboo to make hawthorn skewers, adding the candies one by one and stringed together to be sold. This is how the first Bingtanghulu came to be.
Maybe you would like to ask why the king’s wife could get healthy in half a month without any medicine. In fact, Huang had no disease in her body, she just ate too much greasy food and it did not work well with her digestive system. However, the hawthorn is a type of fruit which tastes a little bit sour and a little bit sweet, so it helps people have a good appetite. Actually, this fruit has many benefits for the human body, including the ability to reduce fat, to act as a hypoglycemic, and to make the digestive system faster. Since this fruit helped Huang’s digestive system to get better and reduced her fat, she returned to health.
Today, more and more people love Bingtanghulu, because it is just a piece of fruit covered with sugar. However, there are some people who do not like hawthorn, and so other smart businessmen created many new styles of Bingtanghulu for them. The snack changes to many different types fruit for different consumers, and then uses the same cooking method, such as Banana Bingtanghulu, Strawberry Bingtanghulu, Kiwi Bingtanghulu, Orange Bingtanghulu, Grape Bingtanghulu, and so on. Bingtanghulu is not only a Chinese snack food, it also shows us evidence that ancient Chinese people had strong knowledge of using fruit.