Ciqikou (Porcelain Port) is an ancient village inside Chongqing – built on the steep bank of the Jialing River just before it joins with the mighty Yangtze. It is a maze of old wooden buildings with an amazing food street winding down down down the middle to a ledge high above the river.
It’s pronounced “She chee koo” if you’re wondering, and it’s where a tourist goes to chill and sample Chongqing delicacies. The food and feasting begin the minute we pass through the old stone gate.
Crowds try to push me through the narrow street, but I need to pause and wonder… what on earth is that?
Mystery meat, spicy rabbit heads, rice cakes, squid for the grill. In Ciqikou, food is performance art and sampling is encouraged: sweets, wine, noodles, chicken cooked in loaves of clay.
Because the original industry was porcelain, there are a few shops selling token “china” teacups.
But so much more is on offer – and I found some exquisite incense of exceptional quality. Not like the bundles I usually buy at temples.
Chongqing is famous for hotpot – legendary spices and flavors in a sizzling wok. My terrific guide David and I made our way to the bottom of the food street for my first Chongqing hotpot. It was delicious and very spicy hot but I managed to the great satisfaction of David who boasted to the waitress that, while I was from faraway Canada, I could handle what Ciqikou had to offer!
And then we had to climb our way back up and up through the ancient town, where I discovered there was more than just food. On side streets, there are theatres and celebrity homes that keep culture and tradition alive in Chongqing. So while it is now a feast for foodies, Ciqikou Ancient Village has been the tiny timeless heart of massive Chongqing.
Chongqing hotpot is packaged and sold in countless ways, and I was tempted! But Chongqing was my last stop on a 2-month trip and my suitcase simply refused to help me out.