China bids for Unesco tag for Confucius family cuisine

Beijing, Oct 19 (IANS) China is preparing a bid for the family cuisine of ancient philosopher Confucius to be listed as a Unesco cultural heritage, the media reported on Monday

A committee for the standardisation of Confucius’ family cuisine was established and officially launched preparations for the Unesco application during the ongoing fifth Asian Food Study Conference on Sunday, the Global Times reported.

“It will take at least three years to prepare before we file the application to Unesco,” said Liu Deguang, director of the committee, and added that the committee plans to hire special teams to collect historical materials and promote standardised production.

The family cuisine of Confucius developed as a result of frequent visits by China’s emperors, high-ranking officials and other distinguished guests to the philosopher’s home. Many banquets, ceremonies and royal commemorations were held there, giving the family the opportunity to develop their own style of formal cuisine.

The time-and-labour-intensive cuisine has been challenged by modern technology and requires preservation, experts said.

“Cooking Confucius’ family cuisine is complex, labour-intensive and demands great attention to detail,” said chef Wang Lingtao.

The most complex banquet in Confucius family cuisine consists of 196 dishes, including six cold dishes such as braised sea cucumber. They are served on special porcelain platesm, and dining etiquette and manners have been passed down by Confucius’ descendants for over 2,000 years, according to Wang.

In ancient times, chefs at the Confucius Mansion passed on cooking skills and recipes only to their descendants or apprentices. But now experts believe that the recipes should be made public so they can be preserved.

Confucius family cuisine was included as part of China’s national intangible cultural heritage in June 2011.

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