20 ingredients that made their way to China along the Silk Road

From watermelon and walnuts, to spinach and eggplant, here are 20 ingredients that did not originate in China. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY/ANN/XINHUA

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Since diplomat and imperial envoy Zhang Qian's expedition westwards more than 2,000 years ago, a path connecting China and the outside world has come into being.

The path, known as the Silk Road, has brought about economic and cultural exchanges in China and abroad, as well as a variety of new foreign produce to foodies across the nation.

As the result, new types of fruit and vegetable have appeared on dinning-tables ever since.

Here are 20 items.


Originating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the grape entered China from Dayuan, during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220). Dayuan was an ancient country in Ferghana valley in central Asia, which was famous for grapes, alfalfa, and ferghana horses.

A bite of Belt and Road
A woman holds a box of grapes in Hebei province on May 8. PHOTO: XINHUA


A bite of Belt and Road
An Afghan man sells pomegranates along a street in Kabul, Afghanistan October 19, 2016. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The pomegranate originated in the region of modern-day Iran, and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region and northern India. The fruit was introduced to China during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), and was considered an emblem of fertility and numerous progeny.


A bite of Belt and Road

Brought back by Zhang, the walnut is also known as the longevity fruit. It can warm and invigorate the body, and often serves as a key ingredient in Chinese pastries.

Cabbage, a leafy green or purple biennial plant, was domesticated in Europe before 1000 BC. It travelled through the western China before arriving in China by the Hexi Corridor, a part of the Silk Road in Gansu province.

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