One of the plants growing in the wild where the Shangguan family is trying to live is the scallion:
"Mother took the cloth covering off of her basket, and Zaohua handed her a peeled scallion, which she broke in half and stuffed into a flatcake."Flatcakes are mentioned throughout the book, and reminded me of a recipe I had set aside for China back in 2011 when I was still researching potential recipes for the challenge. The recipe for Scallion Pancake, or Cong You Bing, comes from The Best International Recipe Cookbook, put out by Cook's Illustrated.
It makes sense that the families in Big Breasts and Wide Hips would eat something like these flatcakes, because according to food writer Fuschia Dunlop, people in the north are often referred to as "wheat-eaters." The other book I read for China was Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. While she did include some recipes, there weren't any without meat that I could try, and most of the ingredients wouldn't be nearly the same as they would be in China anyway. But this book made me hungry and I had to stop and make cong you bing just to make it through.
These flat pancakey breads are then pan-fried and served with a scallion dipping sauce. In both books, any time flatbreads were discussed, they were always wrapped around meat of various kinds, despite where Fuschia would travel in China. The breads might change, but it was pretty prevalent.
They were pretty tasty, probably best in the course of a larger meal. I'd recommend both books, although book are pretty dense and will require some time from you as a reader.