‘Confucius cuisine’ to promote China tourism



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Sunday 15 September 2013

Last update 2 October 2013 1:31 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Confucius is making a comeback in China — and on its dinner plates.
“Confucius cuisine” is a fine-dining trend that reflects how the ruling party — which long saw the sage as a reactionary force — has drafted him into its modern campaign to boost what President Xi Jinping has called China’s “cultural soft power.”
One of the few ancient Chinese names to have global recognition, the philosopher highlights bonds with overseas Chinese and other Asian nations, and his moniker has been adopted for more than 300 language-teaching “Confucius Institutes” in 90 countries.
The authorities are “going back and finding certain elements that existed before the 20th century” and “exploiting Confucius as a brand,” says Thomas Wilson, a professor at Hamilton College in New York.
Among restaurants in Qufu in the eastern province of Shandong — where the philosopher known in Chinese as Kong Zi lived from 551 BC to 479 BC — the cuisine is an edible symbol of the way the writer has been reworked.
“Book of Odes and Book of Rites Ginkos,” a dense, mildly sweet dessert named after two Confucius classics, is a yellow pea flour “book” topped with nuts and drizzled with honey.
In another dish, radishes carved into exquisite trees reflect his saying that “food can never be too fine and cooking never too delicate.”
The philosopher’s teachings of hierarchy, order and deference had deep resonance in the feudal societies of China. Tens of generations of his descendants lived at the sprawling Confucius Residence complex in Qufu, enjoying close ties with a succession of emperors, along with ever bigger land grants and hereditary titles. They regularly feted all manner of dignitaries with elaborate banquets, over time developing an exquisite cuisine, say the chefs promoting it today.
But that privileged world disappeared in the 20th century, as Japan invaded the country and the Communists won the civil war.
Many Confucius descendants — then in the 77th generation — abandoned Qufu and fled to Taiwan.
After taking power the Communists savaged Confucianism, and during the tumultuous 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, Red Guard youths incited by Mao Zedong destroyed Confucian temples along with other symbols of the past, and targeted Confucian chefs for abuse.
With trained chefs having fled mainland China or passed away, piecing together exactly what Confucius cuisine entailed has proved difficult.
“The Cultural Revolution cut off nearly four generations,” laments Wang Xinglan, who was commissioned by the Commerce Ministry to rediscover Confucius cuisine in the 1980s and now heads the Shandong Cuisine Research Association.
Today’s dishes supposedly draw from those developed over the centuries at the residence in Qufu, but that leaves plenty of room for interpretation among enterprising restaurateurs.
“Some people want to use the label, but they simply don’t understand the dishes, the culture, the history — so they can’t make the food,” says Wang.
A couple running Confucian Home-Cooking — one of many hole-in-the-walls in Qufu advertising authentic traditional dishes — serves Confucius Residence Tofu for 30 yuan ($4.60) and egg soup for five yuan.
Meanwhile down the street the luxury Shangri-La hotel — where dishes run as high as 680 yuan — boasts an artistic Confucius feast as a snow pear carved with the word “poetry.”
The dessert is topped with a slowly stewed date, lotus seed and ginkgo nut and drizzled with caramel sauce and osmanthus honey.
The hotel’s Confucius Mansion’s Eight Treasures soup includes sea cucumber, abalone, fish maw and other delicacies.
In another dish prawns are cocooned in hand-pulled fried vermicelli and plated like a modern sculpture.
Professor Wilson points out that “the first motive for reviving any of these things is to make money.
“The so-called Confucius cuisine is part of the opening up of the tourist industry in China,” he says.
A Qufu resident surnamed Li, 45, passing by the lush hotel grounds, dismisses what she considers a ploy for free-spending tourists.
“They take a carrot and carve it into something pretty. But it doesn’t taste good, it only looks good,” she says.
“It’s for people with money.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, on Thursday led the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia taking part in the meeting of the international coalition countries to coun...
Munich: Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir led the Saudi delegation to the meetings of the International Syria Support Group meetings, taking place here.The meetings, which have begun, in Vienna, exert efforts to find a political so...
Brigadier General Ahmad Al-Assiri, the Military Advisor to the Minister of Defense, asserted the Kingdom is ready to send ground troops to fight Daesh, as soon as the international coalition gives the green light, and that this decision of Saudi Arab...
JAZAN: Seven lives were snuffed out and several others sustained injuries as a gunman went on a killing spree in Al-Dair governorate of Jazan on Thursday. Employees at an education department office came under a hail of bullets resulting in casualtie...
RIYADH: The ongoing Janadriyah national heritage and culture festival welcomed German government representatives as the guests of honor, marking a new era in Saudi-German ties.Detlef Daues, chief executive officer of a German business group, said: “I...
RIYADH: Highlighting the importance of caring, preservation and better maintenance of mosques located along highways in the Kingdom, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) and the Masajedna Foundation will honor excellence in...
ABHA: Women graduates in Asir say they are looking for private companies to hire them for online jobs which can be done at home.They asked businessmen to open new production lines for women in both factories and banks.The women said that this would c...
ABHA: Deviant groups have attempted to attract Saudi women to carry out terrorist operations by various means and in sinister ways.Many women have been found to have been recruited by terrorist groups inside and outside the Kingdom.Islamic scholar Mo...
RIYADH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has written a patriotic poem to inspire Saudi troops at the southern borders.Titled, “I wish to be with you,” the poem infuses encouragement in the hearts and minds of troops guarding the borders in Najran,...
RIYADH: A delegation of senior officials from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) visited the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) to discuss cooperation between the two institutions on sustainable energ...
RIYADH: The Office of the Education Department in eastern Taif has launched a program called “Fatin” which aims to protect students from intellectual threats around them.Fahhad Al-Zuibi, director at the Office for Education said, “The program aims to...
RIYADH: The Taif theater group won two awards when it participated recently in the ninth edition of a theatrical festival in Bahrain. The group, which represented the Kingdom in the theatrical festival, mounted a play production titled “Out of Contro...
RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar inaugurated the first festival for families with handicapped members at the King Fahd Cultural Center (KFCC) on Wednesday evening. The festival, which will last for three days, features a bazaar that displ...
RIYADH: A separate department to provide enhanced security to the Kingdom’s schools will be set up in all educational regions, Education Minister Ahmad Mohamed Al-Issa announced on Wednesday.Under the new directive, such departments will be establish...
RIYADH: Under a new ministerial ruling, payment of the minimum capital for industrial development is to be abolished.To support industrial development, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a ministerial decree eliminating the requirement of t...

Stay Connected

Facebook