Ah, Mao Zedong, so much about your life has been written in the annals of history. But there’s always room for a little more, right? While you may have known that Mao loved spicy food because of his Hunanese roots, did you know that red braised pork (hongshao rou) was his favorite dish? Or that his consumption of the spicy meat is considered to be the the “‘brain food’ which provided Mao with the wits to defeat his enemies?”
According to the Hunanese government, though, hongshao rou isn’t quite what you think it is: the local government has decided to standardize the recipe so that everyone can enjoy it the same way Mao did. You know, with rare, specialized pigs from a long lineage of fine swine, because that’s how he ate it while battling the Republicans and the Japanese.
From The Telegraph:
According to stringent instructions from the government’s food quality supervision and testing institute, true hong shao rou can only be made with the meat of rare pigs from Ningxiang county. Officials have designated the pig, which has been bred for nearly 1,000 years, as an “agricultural treasure”.
The Xiaoxiang Morning Herald, a local newspaper, said that three other dishes, including stir-fried peppers with pork, steamed pork with pickled cabbage and steamed fish head with peppers, had also been codified in the official recipe book. Restaurants which do not follow the correct procedures will not be allowed to title themselves as “authentically” Hunanese, said the guidelines.
“These rules are great. I’m pleased my home province can offer standards to all Chinese people for reference,” said one Hunanese native, named only as Mr Hu, to the newspaper.
We wonder what Mao would think of this culinary revolution: would he send the red-braised pork guards to struggle against all the unauthentic Hunanese restaurants? Or would he just laugh it off and let the ersatz pork restaurants “serve the people?” Can you imagine if every regional Chinese cuisine tried to do the same thing?