Ming dining

A recent exhibition at the British Museum on the 14th century Ming Dynasty was accompanied by an exhibit book, Ming: 50 years that changed China. One chapter, by curator Jessica Harrison-Hall, Courts: palaces, people and objects, showcased dining in the royal circles.

Jessica Harrison-Hall writes:

A Timurid embassy’s account of a feast held in a meadow on 20 August 1420 treats us to an enticing description of geese, roast fowl, and dried and fresh fruits, all artfully arranged to impress these Central Asian dignitaries. The alfresco fine dining experience was accompanied by courtly pageantry. Beautiful cross-dressed male performers danced for the envoys, while entertainers in papier-mâché animal masks moved like wild beasts. These same Central Asians tell us that the Yongle emperor (reigned 1403–1422), the warrior, dined on a multitude of meats in a single sitting and had a penchant for yellow wine made from grain or rice (huang jiu). This combination of theatrical and culinary delights paints a revealing portrait of early Ming courtly fine dining.

The blog article on the British Museum website includes a recipe for honey wine.