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Creative Cities: Enjoying the Chinese Flavor in Chengdu
2021-04-16 ICCSD

Chengdu: City of Gastronomy You Will Always Miss

"Cities of Gastronomy" Series: Among the seven categories of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), what attracts the foodies most must be the Cities of Gastronomy.

Now, there are 36 Cities of Gastronomy all around the world covering 23 countries, including Popayan in Colombia, Chengdu, Shunde, Macao and Yangzhou in China, as well as Ostersund in Sweden and Jeonju in South Korea... This series will show you around the paradises for gastronomes.

Introduction: The first article in this series focuses on Chengdu. What makes Chengdu the first Asian city to win the title of City of Gastronomy? What delicacies will Chengdu offer? Are there any gourmet streets or food festivals?  What has contributed to Chengdu's rapid development? ICCSD will provide answers for all these questions to you in this article.

In February, 2010, Chengdu was recognized by UNESCO as the City of Gastronomy, becoming the first Asian city to win the title. It was the first certification signed by Irina Bokova since she served as Director-General of UNESCO.

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Originating from Chengdu, Sichuan cuisine enjoys worldwide fame. The city is located in the west part of Sichuan Basin and boasts plentiful resources as the Land of Abundance. The great varieties of snacks look nice, smell good and taste delicious, ranging from all flavors of noodles to wantons and dumplings, from pastries, rice balls and glue puddings to delicacies for feasts, and from cold dishes to hot soup. They highlight various cooking methods and there must be one that suits your taste. It is estimated that one third of food stores in Chengdu are snacks stores. Long Wanton, Sichuan noodles with peppery sauce, hot pots and Zhong Dumplings can be seen everywhere in the city.

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Food Streets

In recent years, Chengdu has attracted numerous tourists with unique food streets, such as the Wide and Narrow Alley, Temple of Marquis and Jinli Ancient Street.

In 1948, the city conducted road surveys and the workers distinguished the alleys according to their width and whether they had wells. The names of "wide alleys, narrow alleys and alleys with wells" have been in use until now. Ever since 2003, Chengdu has started sprucing up the Wide and Narrow Alley. Now the Alley has become a symbolic scenic spot of Chengdu for tourists both home and abroad.

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Food Festivals

To promote exchanges of food culture with the international community, Chengdu holds various forms of gastronomic activities every year, including Chengdu International Food Festival, Chengdu Panda Asian Food Festival and Chengdu International Hot Pot Festival.

As of February of 2021, Chengdu has launched 130  international and regional air routes, and the number of international regular trains has exceeded 10,000. The air routes cover most parts of the globe, making tourists from across the world learn about the city more conveniently. Moreover, countries along the Belt and Road routes will be able to market their food through new channels, and the tasty wine, chocolate and fruits will enter Chengdu and be spread to West China. 

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Further Development as the City of Gastronomy

The catering business plays a key role in the tertiary industry, and a faster recovery of such business means a lot to stimulating urban consumption. Chengdu's 2020 Plan for Further Development as the International City of Gastronomy has pointed out that the city shall introduce more investment, platforms and forms of business to create new scenarios for consumption, build stronger brands and attract a wider group of consumers. According to the guideline, Chengdu will introduce 30 food brands with worldwide recognition, cultivate 100 local catering businesses with great potential and core competitiveness, and build 50 unique streets... In addition, it will strive for greater international right of speech in the international culinary field by attracting authoritative food raters, including the Michelin Guide and La liste.

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Why could Chengdu stand out from a number of applicants and become the first Asian city to win the title of City of Gastronomy? Irina Bokova believed that Chengdu boasted the booming catering business, professional food producers, and a number of excellent chefs and traditional cooking skills. Besides, the city constantly held food festivals and cooking competitions to promote traditional food and pass down good traditions. Bokova once visited Chengdu and the cosmopolitan city left great impression on her. She thought the title would provide precious chances for Chengdu to conduct cultural exchanges with more cities of UCCN. She noted that food let more global travelers know about the charm of Chengdu, and the city would further develop its characteristic food culture while learning from different cities all over the world in an inclusive way.