Editor's Note: This article is produced in collaboration with the Chongqing Institute of Foreign Studies as part of a series of ongoing reports exploring the city's abundant resources in intangible cultural heritages.
According to the ancients, sweetness is a pleasant flavor that can be tasted with the tongue. Sweet food is often associated with warmth and coziness everywhere. Firstly perceived by the tongue, the taste is often derived from sugar. Throughout Chinese culture, the character Tian is used to express joy and happiness. Jiangjin Rice Candy, an intangible cultural heritage of Chongqing, embodies these sentiments.
Jiangjin, located southwest of Chongqing, was named in honor of a major ferry crossing on the Yangtze River. Besides being a significant shipping hub and material distribution center along the Yangtze River, it is also a grain-producing region in eastern Sichuan. Moreover, Jiangjin Rice Candy was invented there in 1910.
"Without the Jijiang River meandering and the Yangtze River rushing forward, the mountains and rivers stand aside the ancient city walls. I lived inside the city and grew up with rice candy,” sings a well-known local song. Candy not only satisfies one's hunger but also serves as a snack for killing time. With a uniform thickness, rice candy is white as jade, sweet but not cloying, and crisp but not sticky.
Because of a century-long tradition, Jiangjin Rice Candy has retained its taste despite the passage of time and has become an imprinted memory of generations of Chongqing locals. In the past, this candy was known as fried rice sugar. From the 1930s and 1940s, Chongqing's streets were filled with calls for "dissolved fried rice sugar." Nowadays, crispy rice candy is an improved version of Taihezhai rice candy, invented by the Chen brothers.
To make Jiangjin Rice Candy, the first step is to select high-quality glutinous rice, which is to be sieved, rinsed, soaked, and steamed. Once the rice has been processed, let it dry in the shade. The dried rice is then fried in oil in a pot over a light fire. Drain the oil after frying the rice until it puffs up. A mixture of fried rice, peanuts, walnuts, and other ingredients is then dipped in liquid sugar, which adheres them together. Stirring evenly is required here. In the end, the rice candy is rolled compactly, sliced, and packaged. You now have sweet and fragrant rice candy pieces in your hands.
To enrich its taste, its inheritors kept exploring and creating various flavors of rice candy, such as rose and pepper salt. Ingredients, recipes, and techniques have evolved over time, creating a rich and long history. There is also another way to taste Jiangjin Rice Candy, which is by dissolving it in hot water. Chongqing people love rice candy despite it being simple because it represents a taste they remember from childhood.
While much has changed over time, these cultural heritages remain. Due to the tireless efforts of groups of assiduous intangible cultural inheritors who have spread "warmth" with "sweetness," rice candy has transcended time and space. It continues to shimmer with new charm at different epochs.
Chinese script:Deng Juan Li Kangzi
Tutored by: Yang Xiyunfan
Translation: Wan Fengsha
Tutored by: Huang Yan Li Jie Ren Yi
Voice-over: Liang Shengdong
Tutored by: Zhang Yidan