Chengdu is the capital city of the Sichuan region of China. It has a long and exciting history that has led to great periods of art and culture and food flavors that you can begin to recreate at home, even today.
When you’re ready to begin cooking your own Chinese food dishes, Fly By Jing is here to help. We believe that Chinese cuisine is always evolving as people travel, ingredients become more readily available, and new generations give personalized taste to their favorite recipes. Knowing the history of a region and its classic ingredients can help to give context to the flavors you love and make it easier to begin recreating them yourself.
That’s why, in addition to our spices and oils, from Zhong sauce to chili crisp, we want to bring you the recipes we love, their history and stories, and their influence on the modern day. Here’s just a peek at the important and exciting city of Chengdu and its history.
Periods of Chengdu History
Chengdu is currently one of the most populous cities in Western China, as well as a hub for education, economics, communications, and financing, and there’s a reason for that. Chengdu’s history can be traced back over four thousand years, and the city has played an important role in many historical periods and during many events, from the Han Dynasty to World War II and up to the modern day.
Many important historical figures have also come from or taken shelter in the city through the many centuries and utilized its location to make history.
Because Chengdu’s history is so long and varied, it can be challenging to break down the most important periods and their influences on the modern world. Here’s just a quick look at the broad eras of Chengdu’s very important history.
There is evidence to indicate that people were living in the area of Chengdu as far back as 4,500 years ago, but our true understanding of the city’s history begins around 2,300 years ago. One of the most distinctive features of the city is that it’s known as the only city in China that is in the same location and has largely maintained the same name since the very start.
The early period of Chengdu’s history was home to a bronze-wielding culture, who created bronze and gold masks, staffs, and other art that remains bright and beautiful even today. The period lasted for around seven hundred years, at which point the history of Chengdu as we know it first began.
It was around 367 B.C. when Chengdu was first declared the capital city by the king of Shu Kingdom, who moved the capital. Not long after, the city began to expand and grow, aided by the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, which was introduced in the mid-200s B.C. Sichuan cuisine is best known for its peppers, which grow in abundance due to the humid and lush climate, But early on, the city flooded frequently. The introduction of the dam diverted rainwater, helped to provide irrigation for the farms, and made water more accessible to the citizens of the city, allowing it to grow rapidly.
Chengdu Middle History
Next came a period of art and the trading of teas and lacquerware. Brocade, as a craft, grew and earned the city the nickname Jin City, as Jin is the Chinese word for brocade. The Three Kingdoms Period of Chinese history took place for a few decades in the early 200s-A.D., and the city continued to grow under the leadership of Liu Bei, who established the Kingdom of Shu to compete with the other two powers.
The Three Kingdoms period didn’t last long. After it ended, the central city of Chengdu became a hub of art, culture, and creation like never before. For several hundred years, they produced food, art, and lithographs. Some of the world’s earliest printed pieces can be traced back to this period, and so, too, did great poets and poetry emerge from the city at this time.
Between the 9th and 12th centuries, paper money was introduced, largely considered the first place and time around the world for its use.
Like the United States and many countries in Europe, the city of Chengdu experienced a period of war and trouble from the 1670s to the 1770s. Pestilence led to a decline in the population and made the city vulnerable. An earthquake caused a landslide on the Dadu River in the late 1700s, which resulted in another 100,000 deaths.
They were hit again by the effects of the opium wars in the mid-1800s. It took time, but after the eventual establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the city was able to begin rebuilding to become the central hub it is today.
Today, Chengdu is one of the top 40 cities for scientific research around the world. When it comes to colleges and universities, you have options, with the highest number of colleges and research centers across southwestern China. Over half of the Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in the city, and it is a major hub of many industries, including transportation, technology, and communication.
It is a long and storied history, which has allowed for a great many periods of culture, art, and industry. Today, it is as essential to forging a global future as it has always been to leading the way for the Sichuan region and China as a whole.
Chengdu and Fly By Jing
Throughout history, Chengdu has always produced amazing flavors and recipes, and Fly By Jing embraces the food and ingredients of home while striving to make them modern and personal.
Our founder, Jing, has taken the inspiration of her hometown of Chengdu and created an online resource that brings spicy, umami, and sweet flavors and helps showcase and highlight what makes them so special and unique.
We believe that Chinese food, and that of each of the individual regions of China, is always evolving. Chengdu’s history is thousands of years old, and each period of time, new leadership, and travel between regions and countries has helped to contribute their own unique flavors, recipes, and methods of cooking.
Good food allows us to connect with each other, communities around the world, and our shared history. At Fly By Jing, we strive to empower and foster dialect through the dishes and flavors we love and to encourage discovery and exploration. Beginning your own journey to create Chinese dishes from the city of Chengdu at home is easy, and you can start with some of our spices and ingredients.
You can begin bringing some of Chengdu’s historic and more modern flavors to your own kitchen with ease. Here are some of our favorite flavors and dishes from Chengdu.
Chengdu Sweet Water Noodles
Chengdu sweet water noodles are a simple and easy-to-make dish that delivers on some of the best flavors from the Chengdu region. All you need is high-gluten flour, water, and salt for the noodle, and tahini and our Zhong dumpling sauce for the sauce. The flavors are sweet and savory with a hint of nuttiness, and the thick, chewy noodles absorb the flavors with ease.
Chengdu Zhong Dumplings
You can also use our Zhong sauce for some amazing Chengdu-inspired Zhong dumplings that are perfect for dinner parties and cozy Friday nights in alike! Make them with a combination of pork, ginger, fish oil, and sesame, and seal the dumplings up with your favorite pinching method.
Here at Fly By Jing, we believe that food can tell us a lot about a place’s history—and that history can tell us a lot about food. Contextualizing and exploring Chengdu’s story can help give meaning to the flavors you can create in your own kitchen, like dumplings and noodles, and also make many generations of Chengdu’s history come to life.
The more you know about recipes, flavors, and ingredients, the easier it is to begin creating the dishes yourself and adding your own personal and unique approaches to the tastes. Food can inspire, empower, and encourage discovery, and with our ingredients available here at Fly By Jing and the recipes and stories we share, you can begin making your own favorite dishes with ease. Great food should be shared with loved ones and friends, so offer up a plate of Chengdu’s history and flavors today.