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Beijing boasts a variety of traditional snacks which are imbued with local culture. But many snacks are rapidly disappearing as time passes. CCTV's Nie Jia went to one snack center in downtown Beijing and took a look at the challenges facing these traditional delicacies.
Mending meat patty
Having some douzhier, or mung bean milk from a street vendor - this is how traditional Beijingers begin their days. Invaluable cultural treasures, these delicacies have been a major part of locals' lives for hundreds of years.
Hou Jia, pres. of Assoc. of Traditional Beijng Snacks, said, "Traditional Beijing snacks are as important as the Great Wall or Summer Palace. It's not only a part of cultural heritage, but the embodiment of a city."
But as the city develops into an international metropolis, many of these time-honored brands are being crowded out of the market. At Mending Meat Patty, a culinary brand dating back to more than 100 years ago, the owner told us that high ingredient costs and low-selling prices are eating away at their profits.
Ma Guoqing, owner of Mending Meat Patty Store, said, "My husband is the third generation to own this store. We are doing so on very small profits. For one patty, the ingredients and labor costs take up two-thirds of the price. All prices of goods are rising, but we still keep our price at 4 yuan for each patty."
But what troubles the owner most is not profits, but the prospect that one day, the brand could vanish.
Ma Guoqing said, "I'm very concerned. My child is in the IT industry and is not willing to take over. But I'm willing to teach whomever is interested in this. I can teach whatever skills I have to anyone interested in order to keep the business going."
Similar worries are held by other workers in the culinary industry as well. They hope that the government can offer more help in terms of publicity and funding.
Yao Guobao, assist. owner of Baoduman Store, said, "I think we need more exposure to the public so that they can know more about Beijing's culinary culture. Meanwhile, government funding is indispensable as we earn very little profits."
CCTV's Nie Jia said, "What we are having right now is Baodu, or deep fried tripe. It is a very traditional Muslim food. It is first cut into slices and then boilded into hot water. And now I'm going to have a try."
The food is very saucy and crispy. But experts say that having a good taste is not enough. To make these delicacies more competitive, standardization is essential.
Hou Jia said, "For example, a pancake needs to be 6 centimeters in diameter and 1 centimeter in height. Only with standardization can owners develop chain stores and achieve economies of scale."
Statistics from the Association of Traditional Beijing Snacks show that over the past century, traditional Beijing snacks have declined from 700 at their peak to fewer than 100 today.