Typical Local Food of Jino Ethnic Group

From generation to generation, the Jinos live in subtropical ancient forests covered with towering old trees, taking rice and corn as their staple food. Apart from vegetables planted at home and domestic fowls, broad forests also provide good conditions to get the game. Free of working, women would gather edible wild herbs and wild fruits, the kinds of which can amount to 40 to 50. Similarly, men all carry arrows or powder guns with them while working, in order to capture some wild animals and birds at any time. Continuous supply of game is one important feature of the Jinos’ diet. 

There is a common saying among the Jinos-“Han fries, Dai dips and Jino pounds,” which means that the Hans prefer frying the dishes, and the Dais love dipping the food into seasonings, while the Jinos mainly eat cold pounded food. The common seasonings are hot pepper, lemongrass, turmeric leaves, wild anise, peppermint, ginger, and so on. Unique materials and cookery give birth to many rarely known, even unbelievable dishes, such as “chopped raw meat”, “polliwogs mixed with smelly vegetable”, “crabs steamed banana leaves”, “dried squirrel meat soup” and “braised sour ant eggs”, etc. 

“Chopped raw meat” is to chop the fresh meat into shreds, adding some seasonings like salt, hot pepper, ginger powder, peppermint and chives, and then to stir and mold it repeatedly until the meat turns into white color. After these procedures, it can be eaten. In “polliwog mixed with smelly vegetable”, immature tadpoles are caught and washed clean, cooked in the boiling water for a short moment, and eaten mixed with seasonings. The dish smells as the “Smelly Tofu” in Beijing, and tastes tender, tasty and refreshing, leaving a lasting and pleasant aftertaste. The Jinos are used to hanging the hunted squirrel meat over the edge of the fire pond in the bamboo house and smoking it into dried meat, which will not go bad throughout the year. While eating, they cut it into pieces to make the soup, which is delicious but not greasy. The areas where the Jinos inhabit have plenty of ants, which are quite out of the ordinary. They live on trees instead of underground and their eggs are extraordinary huge, as big as the grains of soybean. Having laid the eggs, the ants instantly put them into a sac shaped like a bag hanging on the tree. This kind of sac is usually very big, sometimes as heavy as over 5 kilograms. The Jinos are fond of eating ant eggs and, in each March, April and May in lunar calendar, which is the season for ants to lay eggs, they go out to search such kind of sacs. Having found the sacs, they cut them open with knives, take out those pure white and sparkling bright ant eggs and cook them with sour seasonings. The eggs not only are nourishing and delicious, but also make a cracking sound when chewed in the mouth, which is very interesting. 

Jino’s cooking and dining both take place around the fire pond on the second floor of the bamboo house, with certain etiquettes. While having the dinner, the whole family should be seated in proper order around the bamboo table by the pond, the head of the family facing the pond and the guests right beside the pond. When ladling food for the guests, they should ladle little each time and repeat it many times. They seldom pick up food for the guests, because they deem it as a rather impolite behavior, as if the guests were not welcomed to eat more after the given food. Due to their belief that all things have souls, they think that, the same as humans and ghosts, grains have souls too, so the rice in the steamer should not be eaten completely even though they are still hungry. If not, the rice steamer is empty and the grain’s soul will fly away and never come back, and then people will get starved.