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Download China to Chinatown : Chinese food in the West by J.A.G. Roberts PDF

By J.A.G. Roberts

"Since Marco Polo first recorded his responses in 1275, the West's encounters with chinese language nutrients were a degree of the days. For Jesuit missionaries, consuming the unique nutrition of the folks used to be a fashion of figuring out them; for the British retailers within the 19th-century treaty ports, chinese language food was once an item of suspicion. through the Cultural Revolution, meals used to be political: regardless of frequent foodstuff shortages, Read more...

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Sample text

In 1549 the Portuguese adventurer Galeote Pereira, who had previously visited India, was captured off the South China coast and taken as a prisoner to Quanzhou, Fuzhou and thence overland to Guilin, from where he contrived to escape. His narrative, which was published in Italian in 1565 and in English in 1577, contained a number of references to the growing and consumpt h e w e s t e r n d i s c ov e ry o f c h i n e s e f o o d . 2 9 tion of food in China. He recorded that the Chinese practice of collecting human excrement to use as manure was very good for keeping the city clean, his comparison being with contemporary practice in Lisbon.

Relations between the foreigners and the Hong merchants were apparently very good, although a British surgeon, C. Toogood Downing claimed that the reality was that foreigners regarded the natives with dislike and contempt, and the Chinese called the strangers barbarians and seemed to loathe them as real demons and inferior spirits. Downing’s references to Chinese food reflected this ambivalent relationship. He described a market where dogs and cats were offered for sale as food, and claimed it was very revolting to the feelings of the European upon his first visit to China, to observe the natives preparing to make their meals upon those domestic animals which he has always been accustomed to look up with a degree of fondness and affection.

Several members of the embassy published their accounts of the visit and Macartney himself kept a journal. From these sources a range of perspectives on Western attitudes to Chinese food may be extracted. Macartney’s journal offered the most immediate insight into the embassy’s reaction to Chinese food. It also provided an interesting example of what might be termed the diplomacy of food, as the Chinese exerted pressure on the embassy either by offering it extremely generous hospitality, or by denying it supplies.

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