For the Tujia people of Zhangjiajie, food is a complicated matter and their dishes are often artistic. The cuisine differs from the hot and spicy Sichuan cuisine the salty and spicy Guizhou. The Tujia people prefer a combination of sour and spicy. Favorite local dishes include spicy pickled vegetables: pickled carrots, pickled cabbage, pickled beans and pickled peppers. They even prepare pickled meat and fish. The sour flavor and spicy taste in the Tujia cuisine will surprise and satisfy your appetite.
Pickled dishes are usually just served as garnishes for the Tujia meals, but cured foods are a staple of Tujia cuisine and among the most delicious. There are a wide variety of cured meats: pork, chicken, duck, and fish. Cooking cured pork is a culinary art. Whether the Tujia people fry the meat with garlic, steam it with sticky rice, roast it with green pepper, or stew it with fermented bean, the cured pork will be very satisfying to the palate. This is especially true in the spring festival and at other traditional holidays when families and friends congregate. Enjoying a hot pot of succulent cured pork naturally makes everyone feel more intimate and festive.
Along with the taste of pickled dishes and the expertly prepared meat, Zhangjiajie offers local wines. The Tujia people have a strong preference for their own sweet Za wine, which is brewed from sticky rice, corn, wheat and sorghum. There is a poem from the Qing Dynasty named “Drinking Za Wine” which goes, in translation, “Za Wine sparkling in the cup is as countless pearls gathered together; why, even the Emperor would desire.”