SHAFAQNA- China Highlight: The Muslim Quarter, Just as its name implies, is the hub of the Muslim community in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province. Located to the north of the West Street in the city center, the quarter covers several blocks inhabitated by over 20,000 Muslims. There are about ten mosques in the area of the Muslim Quarter, among which the Great Mosque in the Huajue Lane is the most famous and popular.
Muslim food and souvenir market is another feature of the area. The Beiyuanmen Muslim Market located just to the north of the Drum Tower is a great choice after the sightseeing in the city center. About 500 meters (about 547 yards) in length from south to north, the street can be reached through the archway under the Drum Tower. This street is paved with dark colored stone with green trees providing heavy shade during summer; the buildings on both sides of the street are modeled on the styles of both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Some of the constructions are restaurants; while others are stores. But here there is one thing in common: the owners are all Muslims.
Beiyuanmen Muslim Street has a long history. It is said that in olden days, foreign diplomatic envoys and merchants lived here and then they married and had children, so gradually the population increased. Today, most of the inhabitants here are the descendants of those immigrants. All the Muslims here are the pious and devout followers of Islam so they form a tight knit community, which maintains its own culture and traditions to this day even in such a modern society. People here are very familiar with each other because they were companions when they were children and then they grew to adults together and still then one after another they got married and had their own children. As time goes on, definitely they will become older and older or even pass by together.
Walking along this twisted, narrow street which is aligned with stores on both sides, you can see that Muslim men with white hats sit inside the stores and talk leisurely with each other. In front of the doors of some stores, old men with white beards sit on the cane chairs enjoying the tender touch of the sun and having fun with the little children running along the street. The main goods of these stores are authentic hand-making Muslim foodwhich tastes very good. While still there are small stores selling the special local products of Shaanxi Province and yet others provide you with exquisite souvenirs.
It is stated that once you have been to the Beiyuanmen Muslim Street, you won’t feel regretted for the snacks of Xi’an. Crumbled Unleavened Bread in Mutton Stew (Yangrou Paomo) is a very distinctive snack of Xi’an, and is extremely delicious. Fried rice with pickled Chinese cabbage and little capsicum is extremely savoury. And it is a real enjoyment for you to eat it on a hot summer’s day. Roast beef, mutton or lamb is another snack that can make your mouth water. After broiling on a charcoal fire with some flavorings on the meat, it is ready for you to enjoy. While the most famous snack on this street is the steamed stuffed bun of Jiasan. The main ingredients of the steamed stuffed bun here are beef or mutton mixed with the soup decocted from the bones of sheep or cattle.
There are also fruit pies made with persimmon here which are considered as the unique refreshment in Xi’an. These pies take the bright red, glittering and translucent persimmons from the Lintong District of Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province as the basic ingredients. When making the pies, firstly people will get rid of the skin of the persimmons, pounding the flesh, mixing it with flour, then putting the sweet-scented osmanthus and white sugar inside as the stuffing, then frying them in oil until they are cooked. When eating them, you will feel savory, sweet and soft.
There are also a great many other snacks to be found along this street, such as preserved meat, casserole, various noodles, and so on. They are waiting for you to enjoy.
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