Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Strong Drink of Hengyang

No responses correctly identified the city captured in photos of a riverside path, a dish of eel, and riverside dancing. I'm not surprised since the city isn't well known and none of the photos captured anything particularly iconic. I had considered sharing just one more photo as a clue — one of a locally produced alcohol.

Bottle of Yanfeng Baijiu (雁峰酒(小调)) for sale in Hengyang

However, this felt like too easy of a clue for those familiar with Chinese, though a quick internet search might be required. Yanfeng Liquor (Xiaodiao)* is a straightforward giveaway, since Yanfeng is a central urban district in Hengyang, Hunan. The 128 ml bottle sells for 15 yuan (about US $2.20), and like the peppers in the eel dish the contents have a good kick. The baijiu is made from a variety of grains and at 46% alcohol goes down a bit more smoothly than many other inexpensive baijius. It is one of the ways I found in Hengyang to have a local experience — one that fortunately didn't leave me with a headache the next day.

This is my fourth visit to Hengyang, something I wouldn't have predicted after my first brief visit over five years ago. As with intervening visits, I have seen much that has changed. I have also seen much that has not. More about both later.

*The official name listed on the back of the bottle is 雁峰酒(小调). I don't know whether "xiaodiao" is intended to refer to the minor key in music or the genre of folk music, though I lean towards the latter.

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