Jul 09

The fanciest Chinese village banquet in history!

Written by Buxi on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008 at 6:41 pm
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Images from a village banquet from Shunde district (Foshan city, Guangdong province), courtesy of China.com (连接), :

Actually, I don’t really think this is the fanciest village banquet in history. I’ve seen pictures of similar banquets in other villages throughout China, some of which are at least as large as this. These “hundred family banquets” (百家宴) have a long history in rural China… all Chinese love both food and excitement… but I’ve never been to one. They’re being developed as a tourist theme event these days, so maybe I’ll get to experience it that way. But I’m sure it can’t possibly be the same as eating with a few thousand of your closest neighbors and relatives.

Menu items include chicken, goose, eel… and other dishes I don’t recognize. Can those more familiar with Cantonese cooking can tell us what they’re eating?

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61 Responses to “The fanciest Chinese village banquet in history!”

  1. Buxi Says:

    The 4th/5th dish from the right… that must be a single dish with a really long name, isn’t it? 萝卜辣椒花生肉粒? (Radish, pepper, peanuts, and meat particles.) That would make a lot more sense than 卜椒生粒, which is what I thought it was at first.

  2. Opersai Says:

    I vaguely remember hearing about them, but I’m not at all familiar with the custom. What’s the occasion? Who pays for them now?

  3. AC Says:

    Shunde is famous for it’s Cantonese chefs, their cooking skill is unrivaled. Don’t believe me? Here is the dish to prove it, and don’t try make this at home. 🙂


    Cantonese cuisine is the best. I really don’t understand what the fuss is about Sichuanese food. 🙂

  4. Nimrod Says:

    Speaking of Sichuan food, there is also this enormous hot pot event from last year:


  5. pug_ster Says:

    They don’t happen in just China. I go to a banquet here in the US for the people who left TaiShan at around 2 weeks after Chinese new Year.

  6. AC Says:

    Anybody know how to pronounce the character “火+文”? Does this character even exist?

    Shouldn’t 沙割 be 砂锅?

  7. AC Says:

    OK, 沙割 should be 沙葛, a root vegetable. Not sure what the English word is for it.


  8. Buxi Says:

    @pug_ster, very cool. Is it the same scale?

    This is part of the problem with Cantonese cooking, half the time I don’t understand what the characters + ingredients are. 🙂 (That can be a problem with Sichuan hot-pot too, of course…)

    I will fight you all day long on Cantonese cooking! Other than dianxin, Cantonese cooking is probably my last favorite style of Chinese cuisine (sorry to all of my Cantonese compatriots). The soups are too thick, and strange tasting. Not enough simple stir-frys, too many strange stews of strange ingredients.

    Sichuan cuisine is great! … if you can handle the heat… which means I can only handle it maybe once a week. It’s amazing walking around watching people eat their spicy hot-pot 2-3 times a day. I don’t know how their intestines handle it. But anyways, they’ve perfected both ma and la… and my taste-buds thank them for it.

    Shanghai cooking will always be my absolute favorite though, with dongbei dishes a close second (地三鲜,酸菜水饺, 锅爆肉).

  9. pug_ster Says:

    @Buxi – It is pretty huge, about 700-1000 people (don’t know the exact #) being held in a couple of restaurants in NYC. Not being held outdoors of course, but definately just as festive.

  10. Charles Liu Says:

    Is community event like this common? I’ve also seen other village events like community offering to Buddah where tall towers of ManTo were made.

    This, on top of large % of men with pack-a-day smoking habit, how the heck did UN ever come up with the $2 a day income estimate for rural China?

    BTW, +1 on the Shanghainese cooking. My favorit is the steamed soup bun served with a straw.

  11. AC Says:


    Of course I am biased, I spent my childhood in Canton. And Shunde is called “Home of the Chinese chefs” for a reason. 🙂

    三丝浮皮羹 – some kind of soup

    华记贵妃鸡 – (Imperial concubine) Chicken Hua family style

    冬瓜火文鸭 – Stewed duck and Chinese watermelon (winter melon)

    烧肉大利掌亦 – Roast pig with something and something

    豆角火文花肉 – Pork belly with string bean

    虾米粉丝节瓜 – Chinese zucchini with dried shrimp and rice noodle

    豉汁盘龙鳝 – Eel in black bean sauce

    冬菇生菜 – Shiitake mushroom and vegetable (lettuce?)

    沙葛火文鹅 – Stewed shage and goose.

  12. rocking offkey Says:


  13. admin Says:


    Would you like to write for this blog, discussing Cantonese food and beyond? Please email me if interested.

  14. Jane Says:

    I think it’s cute. I like the community spirit. Imagine us having a New York City village banquet, haha! It’s like now that people have enough food to eat and a roof over their heads, they are doing things that are more “culturally” oriented, it’s great!

  15. AC Says:


    Thanks for the invitation.

    I really don’t have anything at the moment, but if I come up with something in the future, I’ll be happy to contribute.

  16. FOARP Says:

    @Jane – That’s village life, you don’t get this with city folk except on special days.

    As for the food, my heart still belongs to 盐水鸭, 鸭血粉丝汤 and duck-meat dumplings. Guangdong food is a bit sweet for my tastes.

  17. Buxi Says:


    Geez, I grew up in Nanjing and I don’t like duck blood soup… but you do have good taste with salted duck.  Did you try Yin’s dumpings (尹氏汤包) while you were in Nanjing?


    These villages (村) are only villages in the legal sense. Throughout Guangdong and other coastal provinces (like Zhejiang/Jiangsu/Shandong), many villages been taken over and often surrounded by local cities. “Villages” and “city” are separated only by a street.

    In China, private ownership of land is only allowed in cities. Villages legally have different rules, with all of its land owned collectively by all of the registered peasants in that village. And they decide themselves what they want to do with their land… these “villages in a city” have long ago torn down their previous homes and built standard apartment buildings. And now that they’re next to cities, many villages build factory space, apartment space, etc. So in lifestyle and income, they’re pretty much urban dwellers.

    I assume there’s a legal process for going from village -> eventually a district component of a city… but I’ve never really researched that, and I don’t know if they get different legal rights at that point.

    That’s the long-term trend for all of China… all of these villages will eventually disappear. Sad truth is many of these community events will probably go along with it, because modern cities don’t really have an equivalent. Well, at least not yet… hopefully we’ll stop worrying about money one of these days, and start figuring out how to enjoy life.

  18. Jane Says:

    @FOARP, I know it’s village life. I was kidding about the New York City banquet thing, though it would be great if we could have something similar here in the US. I think this sense of community is exactly what we city folks miss.

  19. wukong Says:

    Ted Koppel discovers capitalism in China ….

    Just a heads up, guys.

    Discovery Channel will air a special documentary, “People’s Repulic of Capitalism”, in 4 one-hour segments and in 4 consecutive nights, starting with 10pm tonight.

    It looks like the kind of in-depth reporting many here are hoping for when it comes to China news. I am surprised nobody has brought it up yet.

  20. chorasmian Says:

    I happen to be a Cantonese and attended to this kind of community activity a handful of times when I was a kid. It would happen once several years when the harvest is good enough to make it affordable. Traditionally, it is held as part of ancestor worship (it is not uncommon that one or even a groups of villages share the same family name) and all travelers passing by are invited. Though things change a lot recently as individual self concern is emphasized nowadays, for better or worse.

    I’d like to translate the menu here which is not as fancy as the title claim. I estimate the price could be about 20 yuan (2.5 USD) per capita. It will be paid by clan fund (mainly from rich family in village) in history, by village administration nowadays.

    三丝浮皮羹 – 三丝can be any three kinds of food which can be well cut into strips, the taste of this dish is mainly from one of these three foods, fried pork skin.

    华记贵妃鸡 – fried chicken specially designed by this restaurant (华记is the name of the restaurant)

    冬瓜火文鸭 – AC is right. Stewed duck and Chinese watermelon (winter melon), 火文is焖written in Cantonese.

    萝卜辣椒花生肉粒 – White radish, chilly, peanut, and grainy pork fried together. It is a bit odd here as ordinary Cantonese can’t tolerate spice. Must be meeting the need of people from other area.

    烧肉大利掌亦 – 烧肉=BBQ pork, 大利=pork tongue, 掌亦(亦is 翅written in Cantonese)=goose wing tips and feet

    豆角火文花肉 – AC got it right again. Pork belly with string bean

    虾米粉丝节瓜 – Chinese zucchini with dried shrimp and rice noodle

    豉汁盘龙鳝 – Eel in soy sauce

    冬菇生菜 – Shiitake mushroom and lettuce

    沙葛火文鹅 – Stewed shage and goose

  21. Daniel Says:

    Cantonese cuisine is the best!!!

    Although I wonder what the exact tastes are like. Pretty much have to go to the urban areas of the States to have close to authenthic…only close. By the way, I heard that some village meals have eat in that type of setting like the Hakka communities have their giant pot dishes with layers of different dishes in it. Then it’s placed in the middle of the table for people to dig in.

  22. BMY Says:

    It’s sort of tradition in rural China, poor or rich. In some poor area I know, everyone in the villages sit together like this and just have soup noodles and chat.

    I love SiChuan cuisine and their hot pot.

    I once lived in ChongQing for 6 months. the smell of hot pot was everywhere in the street. there were hot pot restaurants with all the giant pots in every street. I loved the smell.
    The girls were loudly 划拳 in the restaurants which was striking on me when I first saw as a man from a ancient city where girls supposed to be shy and quiet. Then I got used to that after few days. It was not bad to see beautiful girls playing/laughing loudly with friends. (I am not trying to divert the topic from hot foods to another hot)

    I just love Sichuan food.

  23. yo Says:

    I heard there are 3 food capitals in China.

    Guangzhou (my fave 🙂 )
    Hong Kong
    Chengdu (if you got the stomach for it, but I’ll love to try it out someday)

    I’ve been to a village dinner before, and it tastes GOOD! The chickens and vegetables, while smaller because they aren’t “juiced”, tastes so much better than chickens and veggies in the U.S. I asked a friend of mine and he confirmed it.

    In NYC, sharing tables is common when you’re at restaurants, isn’t that like it 🙂

  24. jen Says:

    @Buxi –
    I second this comment: “Other than dianxin, Cantonese cooking is probably my last favorite style of Chinese cuisine (sorry to all of my Cantonese compatriots).” but add 叉烧 to the good culinary inventions of the Cantonese.

    also, anyone know why 花椒 (hua jiao) is not allowed to be imported into the US?

  25. vadaga Says:

    Re: 24— I heard from friends that huajiao has mildly addictive properties? Not sure if that is all talk though.

    I think I will pass on the ‘my food is better than your food’ debate. IMO everyplace in China has good food. It’s just silly that people can’t realize that and stop comparing.

    I read an interesting quote by Nietzsche just a minute ago along these lines: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

  26. Oli Says:

    @ AC #6

    火+文 is used to denote slow cooking, but I suspect it could be a colloqiualism, also note that the writings are all in old style. There are many kinds of heat levels and fire manipulation style in Cantonese cooking with the two most common being 文 火 and 武 火, the former is off course the scholarly fire (low fire, long cooking time) and the latter is the martial fire (high heat, short cooking time) ie for stir frying.

    @Buxi #8

    羹 is the thick rich broth that is traditionally served as a sort of appetizer at Cantonese banquets, which may then also end with a light watery sweet or savoury soup as a sort of rehydrating cleanser.

    Personally, I love all food as long as its done well. Favourite Szechuanese dish is tea leaves smoked duck (makes my mouth water just thinking it) and anything hot, spicy and numbing, including offals. Cantonese dishes gotta be Dim Sum and anything Salt & Chili Pepper style and fresh seafood. You included 叉烧 but you gotta include 烧 肉 too with all that lovely pork crackling.

    You guys should also try Hainanese Chicken with Rice cooked with Coconut Milk, thick Fujianese style stir-fry noodles or Mongolian Lamb Hot Pot (esp. the boozy kind).

    Worst food experience:

    1. Balut (google this and you’ll know what I mean) Duck eggs in the Philippines.
    2. Japanese raw Squid preserved in its own ink (totally rotten)
    3. German Schmaltz, basically pork lard with roasted onions, usually served spread on pumpernickel bread (heavy black bread)

  27. Oli Says:

    鹽烤鸡 (Chicken roasted whilst buried in salt) is another excellent Cantonese dish. A total MUST TRY. Can try to persuade your favourite local Chinese restaurant to make it specially as a pre-order.

    Malysian/Singaporean Chinese communities also have very interesting Chinese food that is very fusion cooking and includes Malay and Indian influences, often with interesting twists. Anybody heard of stir-fried Marmite (google this if not familiar, its an English “favourite”) Crabs?

  28. Oli Says:

    Or proper Beggar’s Chicken stuffed with lotus roots and other goodies then wrapped in lotus leaves and mud and slow roasted.

    Or cold Drunken Chicken made with lovely 女兒紅 -may have a rude connotation/interpretation 😉 – wine, goji berries and other medicinal herbs.

    Arrrrggggh gotta stop thinking about all this lovely food, driving me nuts!!

  29. Oli Says:

    @AC #6

    All this thinking about food made me forget: I believe 火+文 may be pronounced as “m – ern” in mandarin or
    “m – un” in Cantonese.

  30. Buxi Says:


    Beggar’s Chicken (叫花鸡) is actually a Zhejiang (Hangzhou) dish, and very good. Zhejiang also has 西湖牛肉羹, so the thick soup called ‘geng’ isn’t limited to Cantonese cooking either! But… a lot of the stuff that chorasmian talked about in #20 is totally clueless to me. 火+文= 焖 (men1), pork tongue, goose wing tips/feet… I had no idea.

    A lot of the other dishes I haven’t tried, hope to one of these days.


    Nothing wrong with comparing! One of the greatest things about being Chinese is the very diverse cuisine. I don’t think Shanghai cuisine is objectively better than Cantonese cuisine… I know a few hundred million people would disagree with me. But it’s my preference. 🙂

    Next debate… we’ll either talk about Sichuan women, or our favorite baijiu. Since I’m a married man, I’d prefer to talk baijiu. The only stuff I refuse to drink is hongxin erguotou. And I have to recommend my hometown yanghe daqu.

  31. raffiaflower Says:

    Oh, plse, Singaporeans don’t anything about Chinese food!! They can do a mean Western dish, & their chicken rice has definitely improved…but Chinese food, :p !
    I had a Korean colleague from New York, who loved food and wine reviews. She told us she was going to Singapore because she loved…the hawker food!We were all so speechless.
    For Malaysian Chinese food, hawker or the Chinese-Portuguese-Malay-Dutch style food, it’s Penang and Malacca. (both just listed as World Heritage)
    It’s so good you find it everywhere these days…even New York. Last week, I wandered into basement of David Jones in Sydney and found..the best bowl of laksa!

  32. FOARP Says:

    @Guys – Man, I’m sorry, but Baijiu is one of the true horrors of Chinese quisine, and has given me some of the worst hangovers I have ever had in my entire life. The main problem is that the people who skip on Baijiu toasts are usually guys who can’t take their drink, something I most definitely do not suffer from, so I always feel I have to barrel it down to show what a ‘男子汉’ I am. And it’s almost never just me toasting with another guy, but half-a-dozen guys toasting me. I have had some half-way OK Chinese liquor, but the stuff served at banquets almost always tastes like something you would use to remove a tattoo. However, the worst has to be Taiwanese Kaoliang mixed with green tea – nothing tastes worse.

    How come nobody here is speaking up for North-Eastern food? Big lumps of meat, vinegar-soaked vegetables and plenty of other decent dishes makes it one of my favourites. Taiwanese Hakka food is also pretty great – especially the meat balls. Whilst we are on the subject of Taiwan – why do they not have proper 便當 shops on the mainland? Or, indeed, anywhere else? It may be cheap, but it was always good stuff. I suppose Nanjing had something close, but there was never the kind of selection that you get in Taiwan. Tainan was great for sea food – the best 粥 I had anywhere. Hell, street food from a Taiwan night-market beats any fast food anywhere. Fujian Shaxian Baozi were always great with a bit of soy-sauce and vinegar. I have never eaten Sichuan food in Sichuan, so all I know of food there is what I’ve eaten in Sichuan restaurants outside of Sichuan, which always seemed a bit complicated for my tastes.

    @Buxi – I think I know the baozi you’re talking about, those are the ones with that absolutely delicious meaty soup that inside them – damn, I miss Nanjing!

  33. Oli Says:


    OK before anybody thinks I’m a total perv or something, the kosher translation for 女兒紅 is actually “maiden’s blush” which is alot more poetic than some of the other crasser connotations that comes up after drinking too much of the stuff. Worst Chinese alcohol experience was in Mongolia when for the first time in my life I actually FELT my innards light up like a lightbulb as I was downing this Mongolian spirit (god knows what the proof was, probabbly 99.99% or some such, thats what it felt like).


    Yup, nothings travels faster within and between Chinese communities than food. But interestingly, 叫花鸡 is simply written as beggar (can’t find the characters) chicken in Cantonese writing. And 叫花鸡 sounds kinda rude if you think about it, you know 花鸡 / 花酒, or am I missing something here?

    Always wanted to try 紅高糧 ever since I saw that movie by the same name (Red Sorghum).

    If you are into Szechuan food, there’s an English food writer call Fuchsia Dunlop who was trained in Chengdu and speaks Szechuanese and came out with a very entertaining Szechuanese cookbook which I use as reference for the English names for all the interesting ingredients. Her Szechuanese recipes are prettty spot on after having tried a few. She also came out with a Hunanese cookbook and I am often torn between Hunanese and Szechuanese food 🙂


    Yeah, domestic Singaporean food has really gone downhill. Nobody there wants to get into cooking any more and they all want cushy office jobs. Even in Malaysia all the old masters are dying out and there just aren’t enough new apprentices. I once saw a hilarious scene of a Malaysian hawker stall owner arriving to work in his Mercedes 600 S Class limousine, puts on his dirty apron and wooden clogs and just start cooking for all the eagerly waiting patrons. I was told by my Malaysian friends that this is very common. All cash business eh?

  34. Oli Says:

    Anybody in or going to HK or Taiwan should also try the Buddhist vegetarian food cooked by monks at the various temples, especially during the festivals when they make all that mock chicken and duck etc. Its lovely clean and light tasting as apparently they don’t use garlic, onions or spring onions etc. in their cooking. Talk about major detoxing.

  35. Buxi Says:


    Vegetarian cuisine is also recommended in mainland temples. FOARP might have tried visited Jiming Temple (鸡鸣寺) in Nanjing… very well known (at least in Nanjing) for its great vegetarian food. I’ve also eaten in other temples, not always good, but very interesting.


    I did talk about food from the northeast (dongbei). See last line of #8. And yes, Yin’s dumplings are very very very soupy.

    Baijiu is how liquor should be done. This doesn’t at all mean I like the banquet + business culture around baijiu, I’ve seen too many people with their health ruined by it… but good baijiu is wonderful. Fragrant, brings out the taste in food, and has a nice little kick!

  36. AC Says:


    Thanks for the correction. I kinda figured out what “掌亦” was by looking at the picture, but never imagined “大利” is pork tongue! 🙂


    Thanks for the explanation, it makes sense.


    You are wrong about the Cantonese soups, my friend. Every Cantonese knows how to “煲汤”. They do use a lot of weird stuff though, such as sugar cane and peanuts. One of the most delicious soup I’ve ever had is called “木瓜盅”,they put a lot of good stuff (mostly seafood) and some kind of mysterious broth in a hollowed out papaya and then it’s steamed for a long time. Man, it’s taste from heaven!


    鸭血粉丝汤??? 🙂 I thought only the French in Europe eat that kind of “disgusting” stuff. Eating blood is not healthy, because of all the toxins in the blood.

    Guangdong food is not usually sweet, you must be thinking about Shanghai food. The only sweet Cantonese dish I can think of is Sweet and Sour Pork (咕老肉).

  37. Oli Says:

    OK here is a recipe for all at Fool’s Mountain. Its one of my favourite dish that’s perfect for anytime of the year, but especially Autmn/Winter.

    枝竹羔肉鍋 Stewed lamb Pot


    Nice fatty lamb in chunks (can also try beef that has nice fat on it, traditionally lamb belly cut is use)
    One can of water chestnuts
    Either very firm tofu, tofu puffs or pre-soaked and fried rolls of beancurd sheets
    Hand-full of Chinese mushrooms, rinsed and pre-soked in COLD water (approx 1hr), retain the soaking liquid
    Two red chilies, de-seeded and thinly shredded
    Spring onions, cut into logs
    One table spoon of Oyster sauce
    Two star anise
    Some peppercorns (black, white or mixed for preference)
    Sesame oil
    Saoxing wine or very dry sherry
    Preserved Tofu cubes (the white kind that comes in jars, either with or without chilies)
    Two parts ginger to one part garlic

    Stew lamb chunks with mushroom, mushroom’s soaking liquid, oyster sauce, star anise, peppercorns, garlic and ginger and about two/three small cubes of preserved tofu at low heat for 45 mins. Toss in your choice of beancurds and water chestnuts and cook for another 10 mins.

    Meantime, take about five to eight cubes of preserved tofu (depending on no. of people) and dissolve it in a deep bowl with some of the lamb cooking liquid/hot water, a few drops of sesame oil and stir to a saucey consistency. Top the bowl with de-seeded and shredded chillies. Heat-up one/two tablespoon full of vegetable oil until it smokes, then pour it on top of the bowl of chillies and tofu sauce. Best to do this in the sink and watch the hot splatter.

    Just before serving, season the pot with very little salt and sesame oil (its suppose to be very lightly flavoured so that the 香味 of the ingredients itself come through), toss in the spring onions and splash in some shaoxing wine, then stir everything and garnish with coriander. Either serve it in a big bowl or preferably on a portable hob at the table to keep it bubbling away and top up with water and wine. Use the tofu sauce as a dipping sauce for the meat, tofu, mushroom etc.

    Bon Appetite and Enjoy!!!

  38. Oli Says:

    Forgot, vary the recipe’s quantities for preference and no. of people 🙂

  39. Bill Says:

    沙葛 = Jicama
    贵妃鸡 is chicken cooked in clear pickling liquid = spice + salt + sugar + (for cheaters, fish sauce). The important part is NO soy sauce, so chicken comes out in very light colour, and hence 贵妃. It is definitely not fried. The chicken has to be young and tender, and never over cook it.

    豉汁盘龙鳝 = Eel in black bean sauce. Yes, soy sauce is used too, but the important ingredient is the black bean and garlic. A little hot chili pepper helps too.

    The menu is typical Guangdong rural village fare, and not really Zunde specialties (no fish !!!) Zunde is famous for its fresh water (pond raised) fish – grass fish, dace, big head, etc. A typical Zunde feast would have fish as its centre piece, and 50% of dishes (including soups) would be fish based.

  40. Bill Says:

    “they don’t use garlic, onions or spring onions etc.”

    Chinese budhists don’t eat ginger, onion, garlic and chives. They believe these foil people’s temper.

  41. Oli Says:

    @Bill #40

    Very true, but what about chillies? I’ve come across buddhist cooking that uses it or is the abstination only limited to Chan/Zen buddhism?

  42. Daniel Says:

    I heard that some families (I forgot which province) would have a particular alcoholic beverage made around the birth of their child and store it until it was time for him/her to get married and bring it out for all to drink.

  43. Buxi Says:

    Apparently dog meat is officially banned from Olympics-related restaurants in Beijing this summer… what a shame!

  44. chorasmian Says:


    Tongue(舌) pronounce the same as losing money (折or蚀), which is believed to give bad luck. So it is named to the opposite, “利”, means profit, which is officially written as “月利” in Cantonese. Similar story happen to liver (肝 rhymes “dry” which means broken) as well, which is called “润” (wet) in Cantonese.


    You should try some Cantonese foods with Salt & Chili Pepper style. I recommend 妙龄乳鸽 (young baby pigeon) only available in Guangdong, you will love it.

  45. Chops Says:

    How about that, Chinese food played a part in US-China relations.

    “By the mid 20th century, the Peking Duck had become a national symbol of China, favoured by tourists and diplomats alike. For example, Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State of the United States met Premier Zhou Enlai in the Great Hall of the People on July 10, during his first visit to China. After a round of inconclusive talks in the morning, the delegation was served Peking Duck for lunch, which became Kissinger’s favourite. The Americans and Chinese issued a joint statement the following day, inviting President Richard Nixon to visit China in 1972. The Peking Duck was hence considered one of the factors behind the rapproachement of the United States to China in the 1970s. Following Zhou’s death in 1976, Kissinger paid another visit to Beijing to savour Peking Duck.”


    Somehow, I prefer calling it in English as “Peking Duck” rather than “Beijing Duck”.

  46. FOARP Says:

    @AC – Where I come from in the north of England we have a wonderful dish known as ‘Black Pudding’ – basically blood sausage cut into half-inch sections and fried – no traditional fried breakfast is complete without it. Last weekend I was in Dublin for a stag party, and I discovered that the Irish has something they call ‘white pudding’ – I don’t know what it is made of, but it’s not half bad either!

    @Buxi – I will pretend my dog didn’t hear that!

  47. raffiaflower Says:

    Oli,Singapore has probably strayed as far from LKY’s founding concept of a rugged society as it can get.
    Today they would simply look down on the raucous outdoor eating of the kind that inspires camaraderie, such as you see in these pictures, or in Malaysia, as uncivilised and most wouldn’t be caught dead on an average day at a food centre.
    Yet they will motor up to Malacca or Penang to eat the Chinese hawker food and re-discover their ethnic“roots’’!
    Their bland food I think is a sad example of colonial influence of British wishy-washiness and lack of originality, well-demonstrated when the Brits so brilliantly built cannons that pointed south but the Japanese simply landed from the north.
    The local food is not Cantonese, not Hokkien, Chaozhou, Hakka, nothing.
    Contrast that with Hong Kong, where Chinese culinary creativity thrives despite more than 130 years of insipid colonial culture.

  48. Chops Says:

    Does anyone eat dog meat with bread?

    Now that’s literally a “Hot Dog”!

  49. yo Says:

    Actually, in Poland, they have duck blood soup. I tried it a couple of times, it was okay.

    @Chops #45
    I don’t buy that story 🙂 When I look up the source, it doesn’t seem credible.

  50. Oli Says:


    Well the foreigner politicos definitely liked their food, but I’ m not sure how big a role it played (brings to mind Ping-Pong politics), but then having compared the Beijing Duck from Quanjude and this other place (forgot the name, but if anybody knows it would be appreciated) in one of the Beijin hutong relatively near Tien Tan, the latter was much much better although the interior decoration of the place left alot to be desired. The dining area was in the courtyard of an old hutong double storey house, but the walls were full of photographs of foreign politicians, from Bush Sr. to Clinton to Thatcher and Gorbachev etc.

    The duck was out of this world. Unfortunately, after dinner we got lost trying to find our way out of the hutong at 11 o’clock at night, but it would be sad to see these places go and I wonder if there would be a market for modernised hutongs, with all the modern amenities and utilities, and would people still want to live in them.

    @Rafiaflower #47

    Totally agree with you. An English-Jewish friend of mine recently moved there with his HK Chinese wife and their two kids for work purpose and after three months, the place is already driving him bonkers with its regimentalised hyper-competitiveness and all its do’s and don’ts. He compared the whole country to an affluent gated residential compound and having been there a few times myself I just had to laugh in agreement. But, having said that it is a very safe environment to raise kids, but one fears for their mental health none the less.

    What I find absolutely fascinating though is all the very different characteristics of different Overseas Chinese communities, so that although they are all Chinese societies they are all also very different from each other merely through emphasising some Chinese values over others, despite sharing a common baseline of Chinese values that allowed them all to recognise each other as Chinese.

  51. Chops Says:

    Hmm, wonder if sharks fin soup is available in Olympics-related restaurants.

    House Bill to ban shark fin soups in US Asian restaurants

  52. Buxi Says:

    Quanjude has gone way, way down hill in terms of food quality. Even when I went in the mid ’90s, I remember it being just as amazing as they all said it would be. But over the last .. what .. 6-8 years?.. they’ve really “commercialized” the whole operation. Their best location in Qianmen almost became a fast-food type operation. I hear they’ve improved since, and maybe are figuring out they have to use better quality if they want to preserve their brand…

    So, I assume most here have been to a Chinese restaurant (especially in Guangdong) where you pick out your live fish/shrimp/crab from an aquarium… but how many have been to similar restaurants with other wild-life? I’ve only been to one, in the Northeast.

    You can pick out your whatever meat: porcupine, chicken, rabbit (all in cages around the dining room), and they’ll kill/clean it in front of you. We picked out a snake. They quickly grabbed one, cut it down the middle, and pulled the skin off both sides in one quick motion… putting the bloody/naked (and squirming) snake into a plastic bag to be taken in the kitchen… all of this on a special area right next to the dining area. I wonder if I still have my pictures of that.

  53. Oli Says:

    Had some fried scorpions at Wang Fu Jin and I swear my lips felt numb form what I presume to be residual poison from the sting if thats possible, but my then girlfriend wouldn’t believe that it could possibly be scorpion poison. But what I really don’t think I would be able to stomach is eating fried spiders (tarantulas?) as they do in Cambodia/Laos. Thats where I draw the line.

    @Chops #51

    I seriously wonder how much the falling numbers of sharks are due to shark fin soup rather than fromgeneral overfishing. I was always under the impression that sharks are often a by catch from trawler net fishing anyway and its just a matter of using all the fish that one catches rather than wasting it. But then I would have reservation if sharks were specifically hunted just for their fins and nothing else.

  54. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – You have to go with someone who knows what they are doing when you go to one of those places, I have the advantage of knowing this old Shanghainese guy who definitely knows his stuff when it comes to sea food. Every time I went to the local place in Longhua, Shenzhen (Ithink it was called Xinmeiyuan, or it might have been the big hotel next to that), I would go with him – although geting him to accept a 老外 to pay for things was always a struggle!

  55. FOARP Says:

    @Chops – I’ve had Shark’s Fin, but I really can’t understand why it is considered such a delicacy.

  56. Chops Says:

    Shark fin is pretty much tasteless per se, though it adds texture to the other ingredients in the soup.
    It’s only a matter of time some fellow comes up with a shark fin substitute.


    Even Yao Ming got “re-educated” about shark fins.

  57. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To FOARP #55:
    all this talk of food is making me hungry. I agree that Shark Fin seems no big deal, but people fawn over the stuff. And I agree with Chops that by itself, it’s basically tasteless…kinda like vermicelli noodles. I think it’s less abundant, expensive, and a status thing to have it, which makes it a “delicacy”. Popular at weddings and banquets and such.

    Amazing pictures with the community banquet. I agree the sharing tables with strangers bit is a throwback for me…i’ve only ever experienced it in HK, and in the NYC Chinatown.

  58. Fauna Says:

    Thank you for your compliment.


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