It's the cabbage season at the moment. In particular this variety called qingcai, meaning green vegetable. Yunnan folk also call it kucai, bitter vegetable. This monster specimen was a present from our photographer friend Li Xiaowen. He brought it back from nearby Da Lu Shan mountain, where growing enormous cabbages has been turned into a local passion. They even hold a Cabbage Festival in January, a bit like a village show, with prizes and certificates for the best specimens. Cabbage soup is one culinary manifestation of qingcai, but even more popular is yancai, pickled vegetable. So at this time of year, with the dry season in full swing and clear blue skies all day, everyone hangs their cabbages out to dry on washing lines all over Simao. Once the vegetable is dried and yellowish it gets chopped up and bunged in a clay jar with vinegar, chilli, ginger and sugar and left for a few weeks to mature. Every local granny has their own secret family recipe which is "best". The results are all delicious. See also www.leafgovso.co.uk/yunnan_oddities

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