In the US, which foods do we usually associate with winter? Maybe hot apple cider or pumpkin pie?
Now, one of the foods Matt and I have come to associate with winter is what we call "fruit candy sticks" or 糖葫芦 (tang hu lu) in Chinese.
One of the ways you know it's winter in northern China, (and maybe other parts of China? I've only seen them around Tianjin and Beijing though...) is that street vendors start selling these delicious fruit sticks around town.
They're basically pieces of fruit on a wooden stick that have been dipped in sugar water and allowed to harden. The vendors make them fresh and sell them from carts at various places around town.
We happen to have one right outside our apartment complex, so tonight with our dinner, we enjoyed one with strawberries and one with hawthorn berries (delicious sour fruits that we have only discovered in China. Pretty sure they aren't available in the US. We've never seen them anywhere.)
Wish we could bring some to share this summer, but a) I'm pretty sure they wouldn't make it past customs, and b) they are pretty impossible to find during the summer months.