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Unique Tibetan Food and Souvenirs for Tourists

article selected from Travel China weekly

holy water

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 
Juema, a Tibetan snack
Juema, a Tibetan snack
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. 

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.
an artisan in xigaze making a silver bowl
an artisan in xigaze making a silver bowl
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.

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 every tourist.

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
Tibetan food
You can't say you have really tasted Tibetan food without trying qingke wine, buttered tea, sheep blood soup and yak meat.
production, or watching a piece of handicraft made according to your own specifications.

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. 

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