Every famous dish in China has a great backstory and would argue that a great piece of history always involves food. Whether it be how the delicious DongPo red roast pork（东坡肉) came to be, or how moments like the “Feast at Hong Gate” (鸿门宴) has shaped Chinese history, food and history have always influenced each other.
Now, it is impossible to touch on every aspect of how history influenced Chinese food and vice versa. Thus, here is a list of some little-known interesting facts about Chinese cuisine history!
5 Little-Known Historical Facts About China Cuisine
Man And Han Feast In China (满汉全席)
It is this mythical feast that only the Qing Emperor could have had during the most festive times. Emperor Kangxi of Qing first had it on his 66th birthday, where he wanted to celebrate his longevity. Further, he wanted to appease both the Manchu royalties and his Han subordinates. It was coined the most glorious feast in the world. It combines the tastiest delicacies from both the Han cuisine and Manchu cuisine. Apparently the state dinner menu Obama and Trump enjoyed during their visit to China draws heavy influence from this feast!
Pearl And Jade Soup (珍珠翡翠白玉汤)
This is actually just a bland napa cabbage and tofu soup. It is seasoned with salt and nothing else, over some white rice. The cabbage was the green jade, the rice was the pearls and the tofu was the white jade. Zhuyuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty, apparently thought that this soup was the most delicious soup he ever had. He tried to hire chefs from all over the country to replicate this soup to no success. The story has it, that he first had this soup when he was fleeing from capture after a failed coup and was starving for multiple days. A monk rescued him and made him this soup. It warmed him up and filled his stomach. No wonder he could never replicate that taste ever again. Starving yourself multiple days would make even a tired rubber shoe taste like filet mignon!
The Use Of Sichuan In China Cuisine Was An Accident
If not for the “discovery” of the Americas by the Europeans, and trade through the silk road, cuisine in China would be drastically different from what it is today. Keep in mind that vegetables such as peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and corn all came from the Americas. Sichuan cuisine is well known today for being spicy and the numbing, could not have existed without chili peppers. The way the Sichuan pepper and vegetables are sliced are also an important part of the cuisine. The use of high-quality sharpened kitchen knives like the Kitchen Chef Knife to cut is very important.
Fried Dough Is Named After A Traitor In Ancient China（油条）
It is otherwise known as oil-fried devil（油炸鬼). This was named after an infamous traitor in Chinese history, Qin Hui（秦桧). The long piece of the dough represents the traitor, Qin Hui. Just like in Chinese hell, he will be fried alive over and over again to a crisp!
Chinese food can date back several thousand years ago when people use fire to cook food. It has got a rich history and its cuisine is made of centuries of past stories!