Getting a taste for hometown bobos

By Ju Chuanjiang| (| Updated : 2018-05-16

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Two bobo cooks show their works in Wendeng city of East China's Shandong province. [photo by Ju Chuanjiang]

I was still a little boy when I left my hometown in Wendeng, a city on the Jiaodong peninsula. Although I have eaten many steamed buns and breads made by factories during the past few decades, I can never forget the memory of bobo, a traditional food for festivals in my hometown.

Bobo are wheat buns that are four or even six times larger than Chinese staple, the mantao. Skilled housewives can make bobo into the shape of different animals and figures with various poses, and ornament them with red jujubes and colorful flowers. Local people call them "big bobo" and "flower bobo". This kind of plump bobo looks like pieces of exquisite handicrafts, showing food culture and aesthetic pursuit of local people.

In Wendeng, people like to steam bobo for Spring Festival and other holidays, or to celebrate a daughter's marriage or child's birthday as the word for "steam" is pronounced "zheng" in Chinese, a word that also indicates life's fortune will rise.

When I was young, my mother always gave my relatives a big bag of bobo and fish during Spring Festival. In return vshe received different kinds of bobo made by my grandma and aunts. In January, I can always eat flower bobo, indicating best wishes for wealth and prosperity.

As the pace of urbanization in China continues to accelerate, people who can make flower bobo gradually decrease. Now, bobo has become a rare food for city people.

During tomb-sweeping holiday I went to my hometown to interview several people with flower bobo making skills. It gave me a chance to see wonderful flower bobo again.

I visited the bobo shop of Lin Rongtao, he and his mother Liu Fanrong were busy with making a peach bobo for a customer to celebrate an elderly person's birthday. With a diameter of 60 cm, the peach-shaped bobo, on which was written the Chinese characters "Fu" and "Shou" - happiness and long life – was surrounded by 12 small peach-shaped bobo. They were fresh out of the pot, each exuding fragrant and sweet smells.

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