Manchu and Han Banquet
There were various palace banquets during the era of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Grand banquets were kept for a great many reasons: a new emperor enthroned, government’ reign-title change, a war was won, during the time of Spring Festival, or for particular birthdays.
Mancu people preferred Fish, deer and pork in their daily life. The method for cooking they used was generally toasting and boiling. After their reign of the area Han people lived, they selected a large number of officials, landlords and learners of Ming Dynasty to enhance their control of the different races. So as to please the Han and the Mancu, the official or formal banquets during the Qing Dynasty were separated into two types-the Han banquet and the Mancu banquet. Distinctive cooking utensils, dinner sets, materials, and cooking methods were employed in preparation for the banquets.
In the mid-period of Qing Dynasty, the folk customs and cultures of central areas and Manchu’s became gradually mixed, which promoted the development of a Qing Dynasty palace food culture where the two styles became mixed. During the reign-period of Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong, the blooming economy, the harmonious society, the relatively stable politics and the mass’s refined lives made possibility and popularity of flourishing, luxurious customs.
Emperor Kangxi( also an excellent Han-culture lover and learner) was said to be the first man tasted the full Mancu-Han banquet, and wrote down four Chinese characters in calligraphy brush to speak highly of its delicacy and splendor. Quickly, full Manchu-Han Banquet became widely welcome among the nobles and rich businessmen. The materials for cooking were complicated and diversified, and the characteristics of the cuisine should be great in look and delicious in taste. The only shortcoming was that the price of cuisine was too high to enjoy for the mass. So generally it would be honored or proud for eaters who were fortunately enjoying this national and rare cuisine. As times goes, many other peoples’ cuisines were also added into this banquet, it was the combined banquet. The marvelous appearance of the cuisine had never been available long before. It was the classical and top-class feast in Chinese History; in the meantime it is also indicating the harmony of peoples in China!
As the innovation of cooking methods, the Mancu-Han banquet courses have changed a lot. The diversities of foods became richer and richer and its appearance has been further refined. Currently, more than 200 types of courses including the rare materials from mountainous and watery areas. Frankly, it has been the classical symbol of Chinese cuisine culture. And became one of representative feast popularized in Beijing.
Easting in this banquet is also time-consuming just as cooking procedures which were managed by many chefs at the same time for a long-time preparation. People generally improbably eat all the banquet-coursed at the same sitting. Usually it is eaten at several sittings. People often spend over-two-day period for tasting all the courses. Manchu-Han Banquet is widely welcome in East Asia.
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