In company with their unique culture, Tibetans have food of a very distinctive
character. Everyone traveling in Tibet likes to try authentic Tibetan food,
but few can really get used to it.
Among the great variety of Tibetan food, zanba and buttered
tea are the most popular and distinguished. The former, made of qingke
(barley flour) and tasting a little bit sour, is very nutritious and easy
to take, while the latter, a
mixture of butter, tea and salt, claims to be a good energy-giving beverage.
Quite a few tourists drink it during their stay in Tibet in order to adapt
to the high altitudes and dry climate and it becomes quite addictive. Qinke
wine, however, seems to have quite the opposite effect due to its strong
after-effects. Many outsiders shrink from the challenge of drinking this
wine despite in popularity with the locals. Other typical Tibetan foods
include dried meat, mutton served with sheep's trotters, roast sheep intestine,
yogurt and cheese.
Juema, a Tibetan snack
All the hotels in Tibet serve Tibetan food and the Tibetan restaurants
along Eastern Beijing Road in Lhasa enjoy quite a reputation among tourists.
Snow Goddess Palace at the foot of the Potala attracts innumerable tourists
with its authentic Tibetan cuisine. If you enjoy a feast there you will
be offered the following: For the first course you will be served cold
dishes such as zanba, yak meat, beef tripe and ox tongue. Next comes
the hot dishes of sheep blood soup, fried sheep lung and stir-fried beef
with pickled carrot. The staple is steamed buns stuffed with minced beef
and potato, or rice fried with butter. What a treat not only for your stomach,
but also for your eyes. Nevertheless, most people only taste a little of
these beautiful dishes.
Tibetan food is not the only choice for tourists of today. Different
styles of food, such as Sichuan and Guangdong cuisine, are also available
at hotels and streetside restaurants in such cities as Lhasa, Zetang and
Xigaze. Western restaurants and buffet cafeterias are also available for
the slightly more unadventurous of tourists.
an artisan in xigaze making a silver bowl
The great charm of the local culture, religion, art and folklore
has made Tibet great place for picking up spectacular souvenirs. Parkhor
Street in Lhasa is a good place to look for souvenirs and is a must for
Walking around the octagon street, your eyes will be dazzled by
the numerous kinds of handicrafts-- ornaments, knives, tanka, tapestries,
religious musical instruments, gold and silver ware, masks and so on. There
are many antiques available which are produced in great numbers, but you
can also find real treasures-- precious natural gems, valuable porcelain
ware, unearthed ancient coins and relics from temples. Yak horns and the
skulls of wild takin are very popular with tourists. Even Buddhist scriptures
and colorful inscribed banners win favor with the tourists, especially
those from abroad.
In Xigaze, Zetang and Gyangze there are quite a few markets displaying
these crafts. If time permits, tourists can visit gold factories, witnessing
the whole process of
production, or watching a piece of handicraft made according to your own
You can't say you have really tasted Tibetan
food without trying qingke wine, buttered tea, sheep blood soup and yak
Along with the tide of fever for visiting Tibet, books about the
autonomous region have also found a large market. Lhasa Xinhua Bookstore
and the Readers Service Center of the Tibetan People's Publishing House
are good places for people who have interest in this area. Finally, don't
forget the other special Tibetan "commodity",-- Tibetan medicine. It has
been enjoying an increase in fame due to its somehow magical effect on
some hard-to-cure diseases. Rannasangpei (also known as "pearl 70")
and changjue are perhaps the best examples.