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Oral History: Chongqing Hot Pot Grows from Roadside Stalls to The City's Symbol


By Xinyi Li, EDITOR

The Yangtze River and Jialing River meet the intersection in Chongqing. It witnessed the growth of this city. Food culture in this city is inclusive and open. Therefore, the hot pot, as the preferred delicacy, laid the foundation of Chongqing taste. Meanwhile, the 40 years of reform and opening-up also saw the innovation and development of Chongqing hot pot. It grew from unknown street stalls in the roadside market to the food legend, from weak to strong. Moreover, it is the food from Chongqing to the world.


Chongqing hot pot becomes the city’s symbol, from roadside stalls

Chongqing Hot Pot is Famous in China

Hot pot becomes a city’s symbol that represents the honesty and enthusiasm of Chongqing people. At the same time, it also one of the driving forces for Chongqing’s economy to move forward. In reminiscence, Qin Yuanhong, who has personal experiences about this process, has a lot of emotions.


A roadside hotpot restaurant from 20 years ago, photo credit by Li Dingkun

On December 9, Qin Yuanhong, Chairman of Qin Ma Hotpot and Vice President of Chongqing Hot Pot Association, said that this is the ecological hot pot restaurant that they re-upgraded at the beginning of this year. Recently, it is considerably popular in the urban food guides of major tourism websites. In the meantime, it becomes one of the Chongqing hotpot restaurants that should not miss for many foreign tourists. It is always crowded with plenty of guests at the dining time, featuring a terrific atmosphere. Qin Yuanhong said she would never imagine that hotpot could be the city’s symbol.


Some hotpot restaurants also stay the same environment as the past

Embraced the Era Development, Qin Ma Hotpot Realizes Success

Qin Yuanhong’s grandfather has opened a hot pot restaurant in the 1930s. At the end of the 1990s, Qin Yuanhong, who was a bus dispatcher, resigned with her savings of RMB 20,000 and opened a hot pot restaurant that only has six tables with her husband. With the family secret recipe of hot pot base, she and her husband, Li Jie, undertook the works of purchasing, management, and serving. With keen eyesight, eloquence, and diligence, the restaurant became so popular that more than 10 tables were still not enough to entertain all the guests. In the following year, she opened a normal small restaurant that even attracted the famous singer Liao Changyong of the year.


Qin Hongyuan was at her own hotpot restaurant in the 1990s (the left lady is Qin Hongyuan)

Qin Yuanhong said that the development of Chongqing hot pot had benefited from the great opportunity of reform and opening-up. In the early 1990s, reform and opening-up continued to advance steadily. As the domestic economy developed at a rapid pace, more and more businessmen and travelers came to Chongqing, resulting in the expansion of Chongqing hot pot in this period. The local hot pot brands in Chongqing had also sprung up. The longing for the future of hot pot industry, as well as imaginative transformation and innovation of these “hot pot heroes”, endowed Chongqing hot pot with breathtaking flavor and appearance, forming a unique hot pot culture will hand down from age to age.


Nowadays, hot pot becomes a common choice of the meal

Source: CQCB


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