FOOD ALLEY

 
 

The culture of food alley in China can trace back to Tang Dynasty, which evolved rapidly in the Song Dynasty. The culture, tradition, and history are well preserved inside the local marketplaces which expresses the authentic flavor of a vital and generous civilization.

 
 
 
 
 
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WHY
FOOD
“ALLEY”?

 

 

More often when people think of a street with food vendors, trucks, stalls, or small restaurants, they call it, the “Food Street”. But I refuse to call it in this way. I call it, the “Food Alley”.

Why Food “Alley”?

Alley is a term used to describe a narrow pathway between or behind buildings, which hardly can pass through with four people walking side by side. In China, food alleys are often found in narrow streets in old neighborhoods, “胡同”, in corners of cities. There are many food alleys, however, have been supported and developed by the city governments and become visiting sites with hundreds of thousands of visits every day. The foods serve in the food alley are called “xiaochi”, 小吃 in Chinese, and translated as “snack food” or “street food” in English. “小吃”, can be separated into words “小” and “吃”, “small” and “eat”, which literally means “small eats”.

 

 
 
 

历 史
传 统
文 化
回 忆


AUTHENTIC
MEMORY
CULTURE
HISTORY.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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FOOD ALLEYS
IN MY MEMORY

 

Food Alley
is a place
where
holds our memory.

 

DALIAN DAIJIE
大连歹街

I grew up in Dalian, Liaoning, in the North-eastern of China. The city is famous for its close relation with the ocean both in its history and its location. Dalian is surrounded by the Yellow Ocean and was a small fishing village at the beginning of the city development. Because of its deep connection to the ocean and the food it produces, the food alley in Dalian is full of delicious kinds of seafood cooked in a variety of ways. The one food alley I visit the most is called “歹街”, Daijie. “歹” means “eat” in the local dialect, and is also a simplified version of “餐”, or “meal”. 歹街 is relatively short compared to other food alleys in China, but it has the most delicious “焖子”(menzi), a signature Dalian xiaochi of fry sweet potato flour mixed with water, topped with sesame sauce, mashed garlic, and vinegar in the amount of your choice.

XI’AN HUIMINJIE
西安回民街

Xi’an, the city that had been the capital for many dynasties throughout the history of China. It is rich for cultural identities and still preserves a lot of historical sites. There is a song that is been extremely popular in 2018, wrote and composed by musicians from Xi’an in the local dialect, and is called “西安人的歌”, “The Song of Xi’anese”. It sings about significant traditions that bring all the citizens together and form their identity as the children of Xi’an. The traditions include the food, which makes a big part of Xi’an’s culture. 回民街, Huiminjie, is the most notorious food alley located in an area in Xi’an which population is mostly made of the Hui people (one of the fifty-six national minorities of China). This food alley is so long that it took me three hours to stroll it all, mostly because it isn’t just one alley, but is formed by several alleys interlocking with each other. In 回民街(Huiminjie), you can taste the whole city and its culture and history. 

XIAMEN ZENGCUOAN
厦门曾厝垵

Xiamen a city surrounded by water, just like Dalian, but in Fujian Providence in the very southern China. The city has a very similar history and food source to Dalian, but the tastes of food are completely different. All the memory I have that associate with Xiamen is all about its food and the narrow alleys. The food alley that I am most impressed with is the “曾厝垵”, Zengcuoan. It was a small fishing family village with people whose last names were all “曾”. And it has gradually evolved as the famous “village in the city” in Xiamen and is the culinary destination for tourists, with an average of 1200 visitors per day, to learn and taste the real culture and life of the locals.

 
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WHETHER YOU GO TO FOOD,
THE NATURE OF THE ENCOUNTER
IS WHAT DEFINES A FOOD
EXPERIENCE AS
CULINARY TOURISM.
— Barbara Kirshenblatt
 
 
 

CULINARY TOURSIM 

Culinary tourism or food tourism is the exploration of food as the purpose of tourism. It is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience. Dining out is common among tourists and "food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery" in importance to tourists. —wikipedia

 
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Culinary Tourism Food Motivation Diagram

 

Food has always been a fundamental and ubiquitous part of tourists’ experience. The consumption of food allows people to achieve most of their travel desires in relation to enjoyment, relaxation, status, education and lifestyle.

As a tool for expressing history, culture, and appreciation, food assists tourists in fully experiencing the symbolic, social and entertainment aspects of the destination through the lens of travel. 

Therefore, food alley is growingly recognized in tourists’ decision-making process for destinations.

 
 
 

According to Table 1, the first cluster, labeled as disinterested food tourist is the smallest group, taking up only 11.5% of the total sample. This cluster represents tourists who are likely to take food only as part of daily practices before travel. They do not perceive food as an important factor influencing their travel motivations or destination choice.

The second cluster, named as accidental food tourist, represents 42.8% of the sample. This group perceived food as an important motive for their travel; however, they did not view food of extreme importance as a motive. In particular, this cluster represents those who are not likely to take food as a primary motive prior to travel with an indication of their average rating on the statement evaluating whether food can be a primary motivator.  

 

The third cluster, as the largest segment of the sample, comprising 45.7% of the total. This group expressed the most favorable opinions for the six statements highlighting the significance of food perceived by tourists in their travel motivations. This cluster was named committed food tourist consisting of tourists who view food as a highly significant, and maybe even as a primary motive prior to travel.

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ONSITE MUSEUM

 
 

Many food alleys in China are reconstructed in a more traditional Chinese architecture styles, in order to attract more visitors who have interests in Chinese history. They refine and apply many decorative arts of traditional architecture, so they successfully preserve humanistic characteristics of the block under the premise of enhancing its integration into the modern city, provides citizens and visitors more spaces for relaxing, and also renovates and inherits local history and culture.

 
 

 

CARVING DECORATIONS

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Carving decorations include wood carving, stone carving and brick carving, they are representative elements of traditional architectural decorative art. It is to carve and beautify the components of bearing structure on the basis of ensuring basic functions.

Stone carving decoration is usually used in drum-shaped bearing stone, column base and so on. Drum-shaped bearing stone has various forms, it is also called stone drum or door bearing stone, and always combined with animal sculptures such as lion to stabilize the pillar.

DOOR AND WINDOWS

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Traditional gate has always a threshold on the floor as the division between indoor and outdoor spaces. Door and window in traditional Chinese culture is a means of showing architectural characteristics, and also a tool of building the atmosphere. Door and window decoration in traditional architecture is a significant part of expressing aesthetic taste and culture, especially delicate window decorations carry people’s good wishes for life. Patterns on the windows have always propitious implications, for example, vase (ping) and Ruyi pattern imply “peace” (ping an) and “as one wishes” because of the homophonic characters in Chinese.

 
 
 
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the meaning of food,
not in escaping,
not in hiding,
not in getting,
not in recording,
but in the environment
outside of the
IMAGINATION,
to CHANGE one’s own
view of world.
— JIAJIA ZHANG
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GLOBAL ASPECT 

 

Food alley not only exists in China but in all the countries in the world; just in different ways. For example, South Korea’s “food alley” exists in the “시장”, the “market”, where also sells agricultural products, industrial products, and prepared foods. In Japan, food alley is often found within a commercial street, where is basically an open-aired shopping center. In America, however, it is really hard to find one alley of small food stalls. But the food trucks are very popular in the States, especially in New York City. Not only the food alley exists in different forms in different countries, but it also operates differently in China, depending on the regional habits. The food alleys in the Northern cities of China often open during the day, while food alleys located in the Southern regions of China often open at night after 6pm. Some food alleys are even open for the whole day. Although food alley has several appearances throughout the world, the authentic taste, the culture and the history of the localities of each food alley never change.

 
 
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(SHI) is a project which conducts a in-depth research on food alley.

Food Alleys or Food Streets originally existed in small corners of cities in China, and gradually became famous places for visitors. Food alleys do not only consist local foods, but also have become a container of culture, tradition, history and memory.  

 

DESIGN RESEARCH
EDITORIAL DESIGN
POSTER
WEBSITE DESIGN

POSTER DESIGN

 
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EDITORIAL DESIGN

 
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SOURCES:
CHEN, QIAN & HUANG, RONG. (2017). LOCAL FOOD IN CHINA: A VIABLE DESTINATION ATTRACTION. BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL. 120. 00-00. 10.1108/BFJ-03-2017-0135.

Diamanti, Carla, and Fabrizio Esposito. 2011. Streetfood: authentic snacks from around the world. Köln: H.f. Ullmann. 133.

FELLOWS, PETER, AND MARTIN HILMI. SELLING STREET AND SNACK FOODS. FAO, 2011. 5.

HAORAN L, HANQING Y U, SIHUA C. APPLICATION OF FACADE DECORATIVE ARTS OF TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE IN ARCHAISTIC BLOCKS: A CASE STUDY OF SHENGJINTA FOOD STREET IN NANCHANG CITY[J]. JOURNAL OF LANDSCAPE RESEARCH, 2016(1).


LONG, LUCY M. “CULINARY TOURISM.” IN THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FOOD HISTORY, EDITED BY JEFFREY M. PILCHER, 389. OXFORD: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. 2012. 

Scheibler, Joshua M. “Empirical Analysis on Supply Chain Development In Relation to the Traditional Street Food Transition.” Master’s thesis, Dalian University of Technology, 2016. 1.

Winarno, Florentinus Gregorius, and Annelies Allain. "Street foods in developing countries: lessons from Asia." Alimentation, Nutrition et Agriculture (FAO); Alimentacion, Nutricion y Agricultura (FAO) (1991).



 
 


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