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She may not have been famous, but Auntie Xiong will be missed by devoted customers. Illustration: Tom Leung

Before the coronavirus outbreak forced Wuhan into a months-long lockdown that was lifted on Wednesday, Auntie Xiong could be seen daily at her breakfast stall at a bustling corner on Shenyang Road, standing behind a wok of sizzling oil and frying one of the city's best-known snacks.

Mianwo is a savoury, doughnut-shaped nest that pairs with Wuhan-style rice wine or the famous breakfast staple, hot-and-dry noodles.

Xiong, in her fifties, had been at it for more than a decade. The business allowed her family, originally from a northern suburb of Wuhan, to raise three children in the city centre. In the process, she built a loyal base of hungry Wuhanese who craved the fried dough every morning before they went off to work.

"It was the best mianwo I've ever had," Zeng, a 50-year-old Wuhan resident, said.

Auntie Xiong died during the coronavirus outbreak that devastated the city. Her death has triggered a wave of grief, but also nostalgia and fond memories from the regulars who frequented her stall.

In an interview with Ergeng Video published in January 2018, Xiong said it was these loyal customers, as well as her family, who kept her going.

"Some people moved away, but they still travelled across the city to buy mianwo from me. I feel really satisfied when I think of that," she said.

Read more tributes to Auntie Xiong and her mianwo here.

The Lunar team

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