A Splendid Summer, Resort for Recreation

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019 2016-06-06 11:12:59

(2) Chef Wang Kunshan and His Menu for Banquet 88

Yanqing cuisine is deeply influenced by royal culture. Yanqing's beautiful landscape, especially the cool breeze in summer, once attracted a great number of royal relatives, high officials and noble lords to come for a visit; meanwhile, the prosperity of Beijing City also made Yanqing people treat "Visiting Beijing" as a piece of good fortune. From the period of Emperors Yan and Huang and Emperor Shun to the five dynasties of Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing, Yanqing had always been an important place for the royal relatives to have activities. Quite a few royal pavilions and gardens are located at this area, such as Xiangshuiyuan Imperial Park, Jinshan Liubei Pond Pavilion, Lotus Pond, Goose-Raising Pond, Flower Garden, Apricot Orchard, etc. According to the county annals, Emperor Zhangzong of Jin and Emperor Renzong of Yuan was born in Yanqing, and Queen Mother Xiao Chuo of Liao had been the county for many times and, in the 3rd year of Emperor Shengzong of Liao, came to the north county to worship Lord of Wind. Yanqing built post roads and courier stations during several dynasties. Emperor Yongle of Ming and Emperor Kangxi of Qing would stop over in Yanqing on the way to the north. Yanqing was also the royal hunting place for several dynasties. Royal chefs from the royal buttery needed to savor the local specialties, while the royal cuisine would also be transmitted to the local via various ways; and officials of the imperial court, especially the relegated officials would also bring the cuisine of upper class to the county.

The Banquet 86 and Banquet 88 of Yanqing are the typical outcome resulting from the collision between royal manner and folk wisdom. Manchu Han Imperial Feast once exclusively belonged to royal families in Qing Dynasty and was later passed to the folk. Although Banquet 86 and Banquet 88 can not compete with Manchu Han Imperial Feast in both quantity and quality of the food, they are still praised as the simplified "Manchu Han Imperial Feast" due to their exquisite spectacle, abundant food and superb cooking skills and thus were deemed as the most decent banquets in the folk of Yanqing before the reform and opening up.

There are two kinds of banquets in Yanqing, i.e., Banquet 88 and Banquet 86. The name Banquet 88 results from the 8 small bowls and 8 large bowls in the banquet, while in the Banquet 86, there are only 6 small bowls and the rest dishes are exactly the same as those of the Banquet 88. The last dish in large bowl is Meatball Soup (or Wan Zi Tang in Chinese) which is used to indicate that all dishes have been served (note: the pronunciation "Wan" in Chinese can also be explained as "the end").

Wang Kunshan, a man from Taozhuang Village, Yanqing County, was born in 1875. He went to Beijing to learn the cooking skills at 16 and after grasping the skills, he returned to Yanqing at 20 to be a chef for Hu Family, a distinguished family in Yongning Town at the time. Thanks to the proper cutting skill, color and heat control as well as the comprehensive techniques displayed in preparing the large banquets, he was often invited to arrange the banquets for large events, such as weddings, funerals, first month birthdays of infants, birthdays of adults, housewarmings, etc. This is the menu for Banquet 88 kept by his descendants.

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