Look But Don’t Bite – China’s Mouthwatering Stone Food Banquets

Petrified pasta, juicy braised pork, rocky dried fruits and many other delicious-looking dishes are all part of China’s rare stone food banquets. The spread is nice to look at, but trying to sneak a bite will cost you a few teeth.

People in the mountainous regions of China know how to appreciate beautiful rocks, and some spend their whole lives gathering different kinds of rocks, scouring specialized stone shops and trekking through rugged mountain passes and desserts in search of unique additions to their collections. Strangely shaped or colored rocks are considered a feast for the eyes, and stones that resemble food are considered even more wonderful. It takes a lot of time and luck to find naturally shaped pieces of carnelian or jade that look good enough to eat, but dedicated stone collectors have proven it’s possible, on a number of occasions. Organizing stone food banquets is a long-standing Chinese tradition, and even in modern times it manages to draw media attention and keep stone collecting popular.

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Photo: Huang Xiaobang/National Geographic

Liuzhou City, also known as China’s capital of peculiar stones, is home to over 100,000 stone aficionados, who enjoy spending their free time collecting, sorting and judging uniquely shaped stones. The city’s stone museum holds exhibitions of rocks that look like Chinese or Western dishes, and the events are always very popular. But private collectors have also staged impressive stone feasts, throughout the years. In 2009, Zhou Jiaqun used the most realistic items in his amazing collection of around 20-tons worth of rocks to put together a spread worthy of the opulent Han Banquets of old, featuring delicacies like braised pork in brown sauce, fried crabs, steamed fish, barbecued chicken legs and even hamburgers. Last year, Tang Xianfeng, another passionate stone collector from Nanjing, presented 173 realistic dishes made almost entirely from stones.

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Photo: Xinhua/Li Mingfang

Impressive stone banquets are still very popular in China, drawing thousands of curious visitors, all of which probably grab a bite before stopping by, as not to be tempted by all the delicious looking foods.

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Photo: Xinhua/Li Mingfang

 

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Photo: Sino-US

 

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Photo: China Travel Guide

 

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Photo: China Travel Guide

Sources: Sino-US, China Travel Guide, Show China


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