Tofu Family
Location       Xiba, Sichuan, China
Year              2018
Typology      Field Investigation and Research

As part of our research, in order to find tofu produced by the traditional stone-mill, we had to travel further into the mountain area, roughly five kilometers west of Xiba Town, in Heping Village. Here, people still maintain the tradition of treating guests with fresh tofu curd made from big stone mills.

The family we visited in this village lives in a folk house typical for the West Sichuan region. The house is located on terraced fields. The main entrance faces a small yard, and the back of the house is surrounded by a bamboo forest. Facing the yard, the house has a semi-open space under the eave in the middle, where the big stone mill stands on the right side of the house door. After coming in through the main entrance, one enters the living room. On the far right hand side is the kitchen. In the Kitchen, the fire stove is located, which must be operated from two opposite sides: one side for firing and the other side for cooking. A small aqueduct was built to lead the mountain spring to the wall under the eave at the kitchen side. The spring water is clear enough to drink it directly. On the other side of the house, the left side, used to be a pig sty. The free area next to the pig sty is a compound for chicken. The house is mainly supported by traditional wood structures in combination with stones and bamboo. The concrete construction on the left side is a result of a recent renovation.

We documented the whole process of making fresh tofu in detail, as well as the utensils the family used. After soaking the soybeans, which are harvested from their own farm, for one night, they used the large stone mill and mountain spring water to grind them into a soymilk mixture with dregs, and then cooked the mixture in a large pot over the fire stove. After the soy milk was boiled, the bean dregs were filtered out with a gauze bag. They dissolved the gypsum in the large pot with water and then artistically poured the filtered hot soymilk from a high point down into the gypsum. After fifteen minutes, the tofu curd was ready. The tofu curd was cut directly in the large pot into square pieces and shared with guests.

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