兰州 Lanzhou: 牛肉面 | Beef noodle soup

This story can be read in both English and Mandarin Chinese (the texts are presented in parallel, alongside their accompanying images)


留学生石爽农历新年期间意外地被困自己的家乡兰州。兰州不仅是中国西北地区的省会城市,也是牛肉面的首都。这道闻名全国的美食是兰州城市文化和身份重要的一部分,在疫情期间更突显其意义。通过牛肉面去观察封城期间的几个微小的瞬间,石爽用照片记录下普通居民和牛肉面难以割舍的关系和他们的日常智慧,去展示新冠病毒影响一座中国城市生活的始末。


International student Shuang Shi went home for Chinese New Year and unexpectedly got stuck in her hometown Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu Province in north-western China. Lanzhou is known for its beef noodle soup, part of the national cuisine that has always been central to the city’s culture and identity. Through the trivialities of noodle soup culture, Shuang witnesses how the pandemic changes the everyday life of normal citizens and their informal practices, and how Covid-19 gradually reaches its epilogue in a Chinese city.


对于兰州人来说,最重要的事情永远是牛肉面。这座位于中国西北的城市里有上万家牛肉面馆,串联起大街小巷。疫情期间,全市封锁,在银行、快递和警察局都停业的时候,依然有33家牛肉面馆在市民的强烈要求下继续营业。

To any Lanzhou locals, the most important thing is always beef noodle soup (also famously known as Lanzhou Ramen). The city, located in the northwest of China has tens of thousands of beef noodle shops scattering all around the streets. During the pandemic, while the entire town was under lockdown, banking, delivery, and even police services were ceased, 33 beef noodle shops remained open due to citizens’ strong requests. 




2月,全市封锁,一家营业的牛肉面馆门口。店里不能堂食,为了吃到刚出锅的汤面,一家人拿车后盖当桌子。


In February, the city was under lockdown. A beef noodle shop was still open for business. Eating in was not allowed, so in order to taste freshly made noodles, a family used the rear of their car as a table.





3月初,兰州连续很多天没有新增病例,餐馆和商场陆续开始营业。为了防止客人聚集交流,这家面馆在桌子上立起隔板,好像托福考场哦……

At the beginning of March, Lanzhou saw the curve flattened. Some of the restaurants and malls started to open. In order to avoid customers’ physical contact, this noodle shop installed plastic fenders. It looks like an exam room…





3月底,全市解除封锁。出门,吃个二细,肉蛋菜加上,辣子多些蒜苗少些,庆祝解放!

Towards the end of March, the city officially ended its lockdown. Let’s go out, get a bowl of Erxi (thin noodles), topped with meat, vegetables, and eggs. More chili oil, less spring onions - this is to our emancipation! 



共享经济来去匆匆,从资本的宠儿到创业失败后街头巷尾的公益设施,再到疫情期间用来堵住路口隔离小区的工具,这些共享单车算是度过了丰富多彩的一生吧

The so-called "shared economy" comes and goes. Endorsed by capital investment, then used as a public good when the start-up venture failed, and eventually functioned as some road barriers to enforce social distancing in residential compounds, these bikes must have had such an adventurous life! 



用风筝线拉住春天,让它多停留一会儿......

Pull the strings of the kites. Let spring stay here for a little longer...



All photographs by 石爽 Shuang Shi


石爽是一名就读城市研究的海外留学生,目前因疫情暂住兰州家中。

This story was shared by Shuang Shi, an urban studies student currently isolating at home in Lanzhou, China.


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