Thursday, November 4, 2010

Royal Chinese Rabbit Meat

Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, established his capital in Nanjing (Chinese for southern capital). He ate mostly food cooked with the flavors of South China during his ruling years. His fourth son, Zhu Di, declared himself the emperor in 1403 and gave his reign the title of Yongle.

In September 1420, the 18th year of his reign, Zhu Di moved the capital to Beijing (Chinese for northern capital), so the palace cooks moved with him. Most of the raw materials they used in Beijing were grown locally, so the imperial food in Beijing had both southern and northern flavors.

Because tributes were sent to the palace from all parts of the country, delicacies of all kinds were available in the Forbidden City. Beijing had been the capital of the preceding Yuan Dynasty. The food in the Yuan palace had been influenced by the Mongolian flavorings. The food in the Ming palace, however, was mainly that of the southern Han people, so it totally changed the Mongolian style of food served in the palace.

The Chronicle of Ceremonies and Rites, by Sun Chengze, listed the appropriate food and drinks by lunar month:
Ten: Mandarin orange, tangerine, Chinese yam, rabbit and honey
As in previous dynasties, food and drinks in the Ming Palace were supplied in season. Fresh fruits, vegetables and meats were supplied in their times. In the Ming Palace, more vegetables and fruits were eaten than meat and fish. Among the meat and fish eaten were chicken, pheasant, goose, duck, carp, golden carp, Mandarin fish, bream, rabbit, and deer


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