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Oddity 13 Everyone craves Across-the-Bridge Noodles

This is the most famous dish in Yunnanese cuisine and is extremely popular with locals, especially in Kunming where there are numerous dedicated restaurants. The dish is similar to a hotpot or Swiss bouillon fondue, except that the meat stock (of chicken, pork and duck) is kept boiling hot by a thin layer of oil on top of the soup. The ingredients are added by the diner: wafer thin slices of huotui ham and fish; raw quails eggs; yan cai pickled vegetable; lotus root; lettuce leaf; mushrooms (wood ear and cauliflower fungus); xiang su deep fried battered pork fat slices; doufu pi tofu skin; and of course mixian rice noodles.

According to legend, the dish was created by a resourceful wife in the SE Yunnan town of Mengzi whose daily task it was to provide her scholar husband with a hot lunch. The problem was that he worked on an island in the middle of a distant lake, accessed by a long wooden bridge, and she was constantly frustrated by his complaints about cold food. One day she accidently discovered the heat-retentive properties of soup topped by a layer of oil – and the rest is history!         


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