This past summer, I went back to my father’s hometown of Yiwu, Zhejiang (about 3 hours away from Shanghai).
While there, we decided to venture further out into the countryside on a whim one afternoon and visited one of their famous lotus gardens.
Chinese people utilize nearly every part of the lotus. For example, the flower is valued for its beauty and for its symbolic “purity” (it blooms on top of mud), but you can also use it to make tea. The roots are cooked and used in various traditional dishes.
If you’re really brave, you can eat parts of the lotus roots raw. Walking along through the garden, you could simply pull a lotus out of the mud and peel it open to eat the seeds (commonly used for medicinal purposes, and addictingly delicious). Outside of the gardens, street vendors were selling fresh lotus roots by the bundle as snacks.
You could even use one of the huge leaves as a hat to shade from the sun, which I thought was pretty silly at first but eventually the heat drove me to reconsider.
It was so serene and beautiful, I didn’t want to leave. I mean, look at that view. The pagoda, the swaying willows, and the lotus plants against Zhejiang’s mountains made it so hard to get in the car and head home.