Chinese Cuisine Is a Work of Art
After seeing a new exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly, called 'The Seduction of the Palate', you will never view Chinese food in the same way. This exhibition reveals a Chinese culinary tradition that goes back an impressive 4,000 years.
The exhibit starts by showing visitors neolithic pottery used for cooking in China around 2000 B.C. From these ancient beginnings, Chinese cuisine would develop into a highly coded art form that sparked the creation of a complex set of utensils and cookware, including the unmistakable porcelain tableware — otherwise known as fine china — that was used by the upper echelons of society. Indeed, the elevation of Chinese cuisine to an art form started with its emperors but trickled down to aristocratic society in the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately, due to the perishable nature of food, the exhibit is limited to showing the tools used to serve and cook food. However, the museum attempts to give visitors the chance to imagine the Chinese food of the past by presenting a series of recipes posted throughout the collection. Recipes are posted next to the cookware that would typically be used to create the dishes. Although recipes are in French, non-French-speaking visitors can still get an idea of what some of the recipes entailed. They can also ask a friendly passerby for a translation!
The exhibit provides an interesting opportunity to see elaborate cookware while at the same time discovering the sometimes excessive examples of royal Chinese cuisine — like the recipe that calls for stuffing two geese with rice and pork and then stuffing the geese into a lamb. Guests staying at the Hotel Regencia can take advantage of this opportunity until September 30, 2012.