From the Arch to the Great Wall

17. Heaven Hanzhou


By this time, most everybody had gotten used to the usual morning routine on days that we traveled from place to place. The wake up call was scheduled around 6:30, luggage had to be outside the door at 7:00 (for the bellhop), and we usually left around 8:00. Today was no different; aside from a slight luggage mishap, we got out on time and were on the highway headed towards Hanzhou by 8:30. This morning I had some coffee so I did not sleep on the bus and got an ice cream bar at the rest stop to help me last through the back half of the 3 hour ride. We stopped to pick up our new female guide named Lancie who would be with us until we left China.

After lunch, Lancie took us to the Ling Ying Temple. She asked if we wanted a tour or free time for pictures and we all picked free time so she let us walk around for about half an hour. The feature of this temple was the giant stone carving of Buddha and the specialty of this temple was that many Chinese believed that worshipping inside the Ling Ying temple brought more blessings than worshipping in other temples. Therefore, I saw much more people worshipping and burning incense here than I normally saw at other temples.

The next stop was the tea plantation. Since I'm fond of tea, I really looked forward to having a great experience here and I certainly was not let down. On the way there, Lancie gave a short presentation about different tea plantations and the cool things you could do with tea like washing your eyes - placing a cup of hot tea under your eyes and letting the vapors refresh them after a long period of reading or being in front of the computer. When we got there, a guide led us to a small shack to watch workers preparing leaves to be dried and processed. Then he took us over to a field and let us practice picking leaves. Next, we went on a tour of the plantation and gathered together in a small room.

The head guide walked in and introduced himself as Shining. He spent four years in college mastering in tea and everything that comes with it. First, he taught us how to determine quality leaves from bad leaves: the stronger the smell and the lighter the color, the better. Next, he told us about the history of the word tea and showed off his Spanish and French skills. Then, assistants came in with cups, leaves, and hot water. We learned to use just a pinch of leaves and not to use boiling water, but rather boiled water that has cooled a bit. The first cup is just leaves and a small amount of water. This cup is meant to be swirled around (to open up the flavor of the leaves) and smelled to fully appreciate the aroma and taste of the leaves. After more water is added, we could drink the tea and even eat the leaves since that specific tea plantation does not use pesticides. Assistants then brought in different grades of leaves that varied in price and we could buy cans for family or friends. I bought a can of grade "A" (the best) and had him sign it for me. He wrote down his Chinese name, his English name, and his nickname: Dr. Tea. After a most educational presentation on tea, I had no question as to why he is nicknamed so.

Tonight's dinner was another culinary highlight that was held at a fancy restaurant. We started off with the usual dishes such as tofu and beef and then the feature, beggar's chicken, was brought out. It was presented first as a whole chicken and then the waitress took it away to have it cut and served.

The origin of beggar's chicken came from Hanzou so it is not only a culinary highlight but a regional specialty. Back in the ages of the dynasties, the government imposed heavy taxes on civilians. Families were not common and most everyone strayed around as beggars. One day, a beggar in Changsu (Jiangsu Province) walked around cold and hungry and found it was hard for him to stand up. Soon after, he fainted while his beggar companions tried to help him. Everyone collected firewood and tried to warm him up. One benevolent beggar offered the single remaining chicken but did not know how to cook it. Another beggar suggested that they slather mud around the chicken and place it in the fire to cook. They did so and when the chicken was done, they knocked off the mud piece by piece. They were extremely happy to find that the feathers were coming off along with the mud and that the chicken smelled very good.

Today's beggar's chicken is prepared almost the same way but with a modern twist. First, a chicken is killed, cleaned, and prepared with spices and stuffing. Then, a dough substance consisting of wine, salt, flour, and water is wrapped around the chicken and the whole thing is then wrapped again with a lotus leaf or foil. After baking, the dough is broken open and the chicken is served whole or cut into pieces. Since the chicken is wrapped before cooking, the original taste is kept while the flavor and aroma of the wine is allowed to soak into the chicken. Unfortunately, I was not able to see the dough shell being broken but the chicken tasted wonderful and it was amazing to know that it was made almost the same way as it was 300 years ago.

After dinner everyone got free time and Jason and I went to the mall adjacent to our hotel to shop around. On the way back I stopped at a Starbuck's to get a mocha frappucino. I usually get one before work here in the States and it was very cool and somewhat amazing that I could walk into a Starbuck's in China and say "one tall mocha frap, please" and five minutes later be enjoying the same treat that I do at home.



第十七章 下有蘇杭

作者:岳群
翻譯:時報編譯組


靈隱寺

到中國旅遊的行程每天幾乎都是早上六點半起床,7點鐘到大廳集合,8點鐘離開旅館。今天也是一樣,祇有一些耽擱,8點半,我們上了高速公路直奔杭州。早餐時我喝了些咖啡,在車上沒瞌睡,三個小時的車程中,途經休息站吃了個冰淇淋,抵杭州時,當地的新導遊是蘭西(Lancie),她會一直陪我們到行程結束。

午餐後,蘭西帶我們到靈隱寺(Ling Yin Temple)參觀,有半個小時的自由參觀時間。靈隱寺有尊巨大的佛像,而且據說這個寺廟很靈驗,有求必應,所以來這裡參拜的香客很多。

靈隱寺位於西湖風景區西北,這裡峰巒競秀,泉水淙淙,嘉木叢蘢,多古蹟,名勝,洞景。因有千年古剎靈隱寺,故有「東南第一山」之稱。靈隱寺又稱雲林禪寺。始建於公元326年,至今已有1600多年的歷史,故靈隱寺在中國佛教史上有十分重要的地位。靈隱寺深得「隱」字的意趣,整座雄偉寺宇就深隱在西湖群峰密林清泉的一片濃綠之中。寺前有冷泉亭,飛來峰等名勝。靈隱寺建築巍峨,氣勢宏偉,是中國佛教名剎之一。現在的靈隱寺是在青末重建基礎上陸續修復重建的,全寺建築中軸線上依次為天王殿,大雄寶殿和藥師殿。大雄寶殿前的石塔,天王殿前的石經幢造型古樸,雕刻精美,均為五代十國吳越時的遺物。靈隱寺珍藏的佛教文物,有古代貝葉寫經,東魏鎦金佛像,明董其昌寫本《金剛經》,清雍正木刻龍藏等等,都是珍貴的寶物。


我們參觀的茶園

下一站是到茶園參觀,我很喜歡喝茶,到茶園參觀沒讓我失望。去之前蘭西先就不同的茶園和茶葉的功用給我們做了些說明,她說茶可以洗眼睛,就是將眼睛置熱茶蒸氣上面,讓茶的蒸氣去清潤乾澀的眼睛。我們先到一個工房參觀茶葉乾燥過程,然後再到戶外的茶園裡親自去採茶,最後大家都集合到一個小廳房裡,這時進來一個人,自稱叫西林(Shinning),他說,他在大學讀了四年的茶的功課。他首先教我們如何鑒別茶的品質,結論是茶味愈重,茶色愈淡的愈上選。接著介紹世界各地不同的茶,同時炫耀一下他的西班牙文和法文,此時助手送上了茶杯、茶葉和熱水。第一杯茶用少量茶葉和少量(稍微涼一下)的滾水沖泡,這第一杯茶,先不是喝的,而是用來將茶的香味泡開,然後用很欣賞的態度去聞茶的味道,然後開始加水,這時的茶就可以喝了,甚至連茶葉也可以吃,因為這裡的茶園不用化學殺蟲劑。喝完茶後,該買茶了,有不同的茶品級和價錢可以選擇。我買了一罐最好的A級茶,並請西林在茶葉罐上面簽名,他寫上他的中文姓名、英文姓名和他的稱號「茶博士」。他確實教了我們不少有關茶的知識,難怪他自稱「茶博士」。

今晚的晚餐可又是中國美食中的驚奇,在一般的菜色之後,非常好吃的主菜上來了,是一道「叫化雞」,在吃以前,服務生將整隻雞給我們先看一下,然後再切開分片給我們。

叫化雞有個歷史淵源。「叫化雞」又名..「黃泥煨雞」,已有二百多年的歷史,相傳在清朝年間,在常熟虞山腳下,有一個叫化子一天得到了一只雞,因無鍋灶,就把活雞宰殺,取出內臟,用幾張荷葉包起來,外面塗上一層黃泥,放在石塊壘成的灶上烘烤,熟後去泥,食用時香氣撲鼻異常鮮美,行人聞香而視之,覺得這種烹調方法獨特,其肉鮮嫩味美,從此這種燒法便流傳開來,人們稱它為「叫化雞」。後來在民間燒法的基礎上,使之更臻完美,並改名為「黃泥煨雞」,現已成為中國名菜之一,至今此菜國外都享有很高的聲譽,曾被當作中國名菜介紹到日本、韓國、新加坡等國,用於宴會酒席上。

我們今晚吃的叫化雞做法仍循古法,但加入了些現代的料理,外層包的麵皮有酒、鹽和其他佐料,還再用荷葉包起來送進去烤,原汁原味都保留起來,酒也滲進雞肉裡,雖然我沒看到如何將麵皮打開,但是雞肉確實美味極了,很難想像如今的作法和300多年前的作法幾乎是一樣的。

晚餐後我和奕傑(Janson)去旅館隔鄰的購物中心逛逛,回來的時候我到了一家「星巴客」咖啡點了一杯摩卡咖啡。在美國時,我都是在打工前買一杯摩卡喝,沒想到在中國我也能走進「星巴客」咖啡,瀟灑的點一杯摩卡,五分鐘後就嚐到了與在美國一樣美味的咖啡。

 
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