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China eyes UNESCO listing for Confucius family cuisine


Beijing :China is preparing a bid for the family cuisine of ancient philosopher Confucius to be listed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage as part of its efforts to resurrect the venerated scholar after decades of neglect.

A committee for the standardisation of Confucius’s family cuisine was established and officially launched
preparations for the UNESCO application during the ongoing 5th Asian Food Study Conference in the ancient thinker’s hometown, experts said today during a food conference in east China’s Qufu City.

“It will take at least three years to prepare before we file the application to UNESCO,” Liu Deguang, director of the committee said, adding 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 Confucius’s home.

Many banquets, ceremonies and royal commemorations were held there, giving the family the opportunity to develop its own style of formal cuisine, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The time- and labor-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 and stir-fried seasonal vegetables.

They are served on special silvered porcelain plates, and dining etiquette and manners have been passed down by Confucius’s descendants for more than 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 the recipes should be made public so they can be preserved.

Confucius (551-479 BC) is regarded as one of China’s most influential sages. Some of his ideas about food and diet played a significant role in the development of Chinese food culture.

Confucius family cuisine was included as part of China’s national intangible cultural heritage in June 2011. For thousands of years, Confucius has been regarded as a symbol of China’s traditional culture, as well as the country’s intellectuals.

He was venerated as a great sage in ancient China, but despised as a regressive pedant during the decade-long Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), headed by Mao Zedong the founder of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

The party is now resurrecting Confucius in a big way as part of restoration of Chinese culture. China celebrated 2,566th birth anniversary of Confucius recently. Chinese government is also opening 10,000 Confucius schools all over the country to spread his teachings.


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