There’s a local saying in Nanjing, “Without duck, it’s not a proper meal.” Needless to say, the Nanjingese have duck fever and prepare the bird every which way – marinated, roasted, salted, and more. Duck Blood and Vermicelli Soup is a particularly special dish in Nanjing, with an interesting backstory. Legend has it, a poor man in Nanjing slaughtered a duck and left it in a bowl to collect its blood. While he cleaned the duck, he accidentally dropped vermicelli noodles in the bowl and cooked the stew, hence Duck Blood and Vermicelli Soup. Today, this Chinese delicacy is made by boiling vermicelli, duck blood, liver, and intestines along with dried shrimp, dried tofu, caraway seeds, shallots, ginger, sesame oil, and roughly 20 Chinese herbs. The Nanjingese believe together, these ingredients help remove toxins from the body, aid circulation, and even maintain one’s beauty.
Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), chrysanthemum tea has been a popular herbal remedy throughout much of China. Drinking a cup of this floral beverage is believed to balance your cholesterol levels and relieve sinus pressure. To prepare a pot, the Chinese steep dried chrysanthemum flowers in hot water and add rock sugar or cane sugar to sweeten the brew. It’s Chinese tradition to repeatedly add hot water to the flowers once the pot is emptied, even if the flavor weakens. Chrysanthemum tea is not only tasty – it’s also Instagram-worthy, given its pale (sometimes bright) yellow hue.
Located in the central-northeast part of Nanjing is Xuanwu Lake Park, the largest Imperial lake garden in China’s history. Xuanwu Lake comprises five islands: Huan Isle, Ying Isle, Ling Isle, Liang Isle, and Cui Isle – all linked together by arched bridges and causeways. The main entrance to Xuanwu Lake Park is through the Xuanwu Gate. Enter here to discover the park’s many attractions including temples, pagodas, pavilions, teahouses, restaurants, and even a small zoo. If you want to explore every inch of this 3-square-mile park, it’ll take you roughly five hours.