Zhangye city/张掖 is one of the important city marked along Silk Road China. Situated at Gansu Province, Zhangye old name is “Ganzhou” from which name Gansu Province is derived. Zhangye was developed very early due to the superiority of the geographical and favorable environmental location. Zhangye is located geographically at the crossroad of Silk Road, middle of Hexi corridor, leading to the plateau in Qinghai and Xizang to the south, to the Mongol desert in the north, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the west, linking up central Asia and Europe. It is a famous commercial port on the Silk Road and one of the biggest international trade market.
Marco Polo Statue
When we arrived in Zhangye city, we saw a foreigner statue standing tall at the European style avenue, also known as West Street in Zhangye. The statue was there to mark the few hundred years of anniversary of the arrival of this cultural ambassador for his recognition of his contribution for bringing Chinese culture to the West. Hence the avenue is now named after Marco Polo Avenue. Marco Polo stayed in Ganzhou/Zhangye nearly a year.
A little background of Marco Polo, he was born in Venice in an Italian merchant family. He started his travel at a very young age, early teen. He was a famous explorer who spend 17 years in China. When he went home to Italy, he wrote a book about his travel abroad, what he saw and encountered. (To be exact, Marco Polo did not write the book of China, he was in prison for a while and told story about his travel in far east to the guy who were at the same cell with him, the guy happened to be a writer. The writer actually written down all the interesting thing Marco Polo described to him. Marco Polo was a very intelligent and observant person, he had strong interest in knowing how local people live, such as what they eat and wear. His book has inspired many other explorers and traveler to find out about China.
Marco Polo and the Pizza Story
Our guide told us the origin of the pizza is coming from China not Italy. During Marco Polo stay in Zhangye, he tasted “naan”, the bread made by the ethinic Uyghur people. When he left Zhange and gone back home, he missed “naan” very much so he describe to his servant about “naan” and asked them to make for him but the servants put lots of other different topping on top and called it pizza 🙂 This is what people believe in Zhangye!
Where we stopped for our meal is, very near to Marco Polo Avenue. The place look like a busy place. It has plenty of shops and restaurants and hotels. I am sure it is an energetic downtown in Zhangye. You will notice the buildings here are unlike anywhere else you see in China, the buildings were built with Venetian Gothic style. I heard people in Zhangye are proud of Marco Polo stayed here for a year 🙂
Wooden Pagoda Temple
Wooden Pagoda Temple in Zhange was built-in early 557-588 AD and was being renovated several times during the different dynasties. This pagoda is nice-storey tall with a unique octagon shaped. The one thing that make Wooden Pagoda Temple so unique from other pagodas because no nails were used in the whole structure. If you go up to the top of the pagoda, you will see the stunning view of the whole Zhangye city which include the Qilian mountain.
You will notice the main food in Zhangye is flour. Most of our meals are served with Chinese white bun and pulled noodles soup. There are usually 10 dishes for a round table of 10 people. White bun and rice are also included in the meals, excluding the 10 dishes.
Before we entered to our private dining room, there is a super big picture with the ancient Chinese words. I could not recognize many of the words in the picture even though I learn Chinese for half of my life.
Mutton with Noodles/靖远羊羔肉
This is an important dish in Zhangye. The mutton tasted awesome together with the chewy noodles. A perfect combination as the noodles gotten all the good taste from the mutton.
Steaming Pot Chicken 汽锅鸡汤
This dish used a lot of Chinese herb and medicine cook for hours together with chicken. The origin of this dish is coming form Yunnan, China.
Deep Fried Pork Rib
Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce
The fish was very appetizing but the little bones are just too many to handle. The fish was deep friend before pouring with the sweet and sour sauce. Since this is river fish, the river taste is still very strong after deep-fried but a lot better compared to steam fish.
Albino leeks with Chicken
Wrap the chicken and albino leeks with the white bun to eat together.
Fry Mushroom with Pork
Pumpkin with colorful sprinkles
The pumpkin tasted very sweet but can do without the sprinkles. I thought it was a dessert when the dish arrived at our table.
Chinese Cabbage with Tanghoon noodles
Xiao Bai Cai Vegetables with Mushrooms
Pulled Small Noodles Soup
Melon Carving is a traditional art on the table in Zhangye cuisine, Gansu.
Final thoughts :
Zhangye City is one of the important route in Silk Road, there are several places you can visit in Zhangye, such as the Dafo Temple which was built thousand years ago and Zhangye Danxia Colorful mountains which was formed million years ago. Both are just stunning and one should not missed it while you are in Zhangye.
Nearby Attraction along Silk Road :