Eating in Nagqu

With the improvement of the living standard of the Tibetans in Nagqu Prefecture (referred to as northern Tibetans), their food and drink have become more and more varied. Northern Tibetans mostly eat livestock products and master more than 200 kinds of cooking methods, with boiling, grilling, broiling, stir-frying and steaming as the main. It is said that northern Tibetans have several major-three’s: three nutritious foods (meat, yak butter and cheese), three staple foods (highland barley, wheat and pea), three beverages (tea, milk and Tibetan barley beer) and three sweet foods (brown sugar, white sugar and honey). Salt and water are indispensable in any food.

The food and drink in Nagqu Prefecture bear strong Tibetan characteristics. The traditional staple food is roasted highland barley flour (tsamba). Since 1980s, rice has entered more and more herders’ families. The widely-eaten wildings are Solamwn Muicatnm and yellow fungus. Dairy products such as yoghurt and milk curb are popular. As to meat, they mainly eat beef and mutton and occasionally eat pork, canned meat and some wild animal meat. Yak butter, together with a small amount of rap oil, is their main edible oil. They mostly drink buttered tea, with simple tea and milk tea as the supplements. At festivals, they drink Tibetan barley beer (chang) instead of distilled spirits. In the towns and the areas nearby, all kinds of modern beverages, especially beer, are available.

In the daily life, the mealtime for northern Tibetans is much related to climate and family routines. They usually drink tea for five times, that is, in the early morning, in the late morning, at noon, in the evening and before going to bed. In most cases, they have meals when they feel hungry and generally eat three meals a day. However, in the summer or busy herbing season, they may eat four meals a day. Usually, their breakfast is made up of buttered tea, tsampa and cheese; lunch consists of tsampa, yoghurt, diced meat soup or hand-taking meat; at supper, they eat gruel.

Northern Tibetans are very hospitable. They hold family feasts on many occasions. When they have visitors, festivals, religious activities, wedding ceremonies, horse racing competitions, and even when they hear the first bird singing or the first thundering in the spring, they will hold feasts at their home, eating to their heart for celebration.

At present, there is no Tibetan-specialty restaurant in Nagqu Prefecture, only with some small restaurants serving Sichuan food in Nagqu Town and other towns.


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