Every locality has its own specialties—wild game in Hebei, braised chicken in Shandong, duck cooked myriad ways in Jiangsu. Try Qingdao’s famous chili-fried clams, or Suzhou’s sweet-and-sour river fish. Jiangsu cuisine, called Huaiyang, is considered one of China’s four great cooking styles, and is light, fresh, and sweet (though not as sweet as in Shanghai). As you travel inland to Anhui, the food is famously salty, relying heavily on preserved ham and soy sauce to enhance flavors. Anhui chefs make good use of mountain-grown mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Vegetarian options, often available in or near Buddhist temples, showcase chefs who manipulate tofu, wheat gluten, and vegetables to create "mock" meat that even carnivores will appreciate.

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