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  • Immortal Meals #18: Breakfast in the Forbidden Palace December 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    the last emperor

    The month is March 1912, the day unspecified, but you walk into the dining room in the Forbidden Palace in Peking and one breakfast is much like any other. The sole guest is about to have breakfast and the twenty five dishes for this important meal have just been laid out by the eunuchs. Beach is relying on the menu quoted by Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last Manchu Emperor and the last Chinese Emperor, unless the Chinese Communist Party has some curious trick waiting up their collectivised sleeve. He was six when these wonders were placed in front of him, though he didn’t get to taste any of them.

    Imperial Mushrooms with Four Hour Steamed Whole Chicken

    Duck of Triple Delight (duck, ham, chicken with mushrooms and a special sauce)

    Slived Chicken Meat with Garden Vegetables

    Steamed Whole Ham

    Slow Simmered Tripe and Lung

    Sliced Beef with Hearts of Out-of-Season Cabbage

    Spiced Stewed Mutton

    Mutton with Young Spinach, Peas and Mushrooms

    Sweet Fresh Southern Cherries with Potatoes

    Steamed Meat and Vegetables in Chafing Dish

    Sea Urchins in Duck Stock

    Glazed Spiced Duck

    Imperial Rice with Southern Potatoes

    Fried Mushrooms

    Cubed Pork with Broccoli

    Thinly Sliced Lamb with Out-of-Season Spiced Vegetables

    Fried Egg Rolls

    Scallions with Sliced Meat

    Cold Tripe Marinated in Spices and Wine

    Ben Curds Sprinkled with Spices, Soya Sauce and Dried Vegetables

    Smoked Dried Bean Curd with Bean Sprouts, Ginger and Other Spices

    Sautéed Out-of-Season Vegetables

    Spiced Cabbage

    Spiced Dried Game

    Ancestor Meat Soup

    As noted Aisin-Gioro Puyi never actually ate any of these dishes that were there simply for show: it cannot have been a job that gave much sense of vocation to the chefs involved. Instead, some simple rice and condiments would be placed in front of him. Indeed, after the meal, a eunuch would go to report to the High Consorts, the regency council with the simple formula: ‘Your slave reports that the Lord of 10,000 years consumed one bowl of rice, one sesame bun and one bowl of congee. He ate the viands with relish.’ And the wonderful foods that were not touched? This is so often the question with these incredible, impossible meals put on through the Middle Ages and up into modern times: memories of full up in Ferrara; and food orgies on twelfth night. There are broadly speaking two possibilities: the food was thrown away; or the serving staff ate incredibly well. Other immortal meals: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com And this is idle curiosity, but what is ancestor meat soup, it sounds nightmarish?