China Food

How many time-honored brands did Cixi “eat”?

Cixi loves delicious food and is also good at identifying delicious food. After she is tired of delicacies, folk snacks can give her a greater shock.
Last Friday, Guanchao new consumption video staged a new live broadcast. Wang Zhihe, a time-honored brand, and the brand directors of Tianfu brand visited the tide viewing studio and discussed the topic of “three hundred years of tide flavor of national time-honored brands” (for details, click《
During the live broadcast, a very interesting message appeared in the comment area: “how many time-honored brands did Cixi eat?”
According to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce in 2020, in the early days of the founding of new China, there were more than 16000 time-honored brands in China, but there were only 1128 existing ones, with a survival rate of only 7%; Among the more than 1000 time-honored brands, only 10% have achieved profits, 40% have balanced profits and losses, and 50% are facing continuous losses or will withdraw from the historical stage.
The reason why time-honored brands become time-honored brands is precisely because of the uninterrupted cultural inheritance. Protecting time-honored brands has become an important issue in the national tide era, and the exploration of brand history is an indispensable link. Guanchao new consumption found that many of the well-known and time-honored brands had been “associated” with Cixi and even “brought goods” by her in person, of which catering accounted for a large proportion.
On the one hand, Cixi loves delicious food and is also good at identifying delicious food. After being fed up with delicacies, folk snacks can bring her greater shock; On the other hand, Cixi “hung the curtain to listen to the government” dominated the power. After the three dynasties of Tongzhi, Guangxu and Puyi, Cixi firmly controlled the supreme power for 47 years. Her every move was closely watched by the courtiers and the people.
The most important reason is that the late Qing Dynasty is not too long ago. Even from 1861 when Cixi became empress dowager, it has only experienced 161 years.
In the long history, more than a hundred years is not enough to seriously kill the truth. Even after the most turbulent times, many time-honored brands are lucky to inherit and continue in the new era.
Yuqing recipe
In the eighth year of Kangxi (1669), Wang Zhihe, a native of Xianyuan, Anhui Province, went to Beijing to take the exam, but he failed in the exam. Helpless, he wanted to make a living in the capital temporarily. Anhui is rich in tofu. Wang Zhihe also learned to make tofu from his father when he was young, so he borrowed some money from several fellow villagers, rented two rooms near Anhui guild hall and opened a tofu workshop.
Wang Zhihe makes several drawers of tofu every day and sells it along the street. It’s difficult for businesses in the streets to ensure the balance between supply and demand every day. Especially in the hot summer, it’s difficult to store the unsold tofu. So he cut the tofu into small pieces, dried it a little, salted it and stored it in a jar.
As he was reading while working, Wang Zhihe, who roamed in the ocean of knowledge, forgot the passage of time. It was not until the tofu jar in dog days sent out a mysterious smell that Wang Zhihe remembered to open the jar for inspection. Unexpectedly, a strong odor came to his face and rushed to the top door.
Perhaps it was the boldness of the art experts, or the early leadership of the poor. Wang Zhihe took out the green gray fermented bean curd and tasted it himself.
There is a lingering fragrance after the stench. Wang Zhihe was overjoyed. In order to prevent the neighbors from suspecting that he had developed “biological and chemical weapons”, he took the tofu to the neighbors and got unanimous praise.
Therefore, Wang Zhihe made persistent efforts to explore a set of production technology of stinky tofu. In the 17th year of Kangxi (1678), he opened a workshop in the west of yanshousi street and erected the signboard of “Wang Zhihe South soy sauce garden”.
In the twinkling of an eye, during the Tongzhi period, the eunuch of Cixi, Andre Hai, went out of the palace to do business. When passing by the South soy sauce garden, he was attracted by a unique smell and tasted a piece of stinky tofu driven by curiosity. At this time, the product technology has gone through nearly 200 years of inheritance and reform. It smells only slightly smelly, but it tastes “really fragrant”.
Andrea’s mind was lively. He thought that the old Buddha was tired of delicacies and must have never eaten stinky tofu, so he bought a jar and took it back to the palace.
There is always inevitability in the coincidence of history. Cixi has no way to govern the country, but her royal subordinates are good. Her power comes from the palace fight. Eunuchs who deeply participated in the palace coup are favored for their contributions. They know Cixi’s love for food, take it as a ladder to climb, and dare to bring a “smell as fragrance” food to Cixi’s dinner table.
When Cixi had dinner, Anhai brought a small plate of stinky tofu to the table. Cixi covered her nose as soon as she heard it. But she couldn’t stand Andrea’s praise and finally tasted a little. No one can escape the law of Zhenxiang. Cixi eats two pieces of stinky tofu for a dinner.
After a full meal, Cixi was very happy. Because he was not satisfied with the name of stinky tofu, he gave the name of “Yuqing recipe” and sent a message to include “Yuqing recipe” in the Royal diet menu and serve it in time.
After Cixi’s “endorsement”, Wang Zhihe’s stinky tofu became famous in the capital, and diners came one after another.
Sun Jianai, the number one scholar in the late Qing Dynasty, once wrote two pairs of Tibetan head pairs. One said, “the delicious food to you spreads thousands of miles, and keep an inch of heart with me”; Another vice said: “sauce with Longpan mixed peony, garden chicken plantar bell Hibiscus”, and the crown top horizontal reading is “Zhihe sauce garden”.
In the third year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign, Liu Fengxiang, a native of Yexian County, Shandong Province, brought his sons and grandchildren to Beijing to make a living. He partnered with a Shanxi businessman to open a “Liuji soy sauce meat shop” at the east corner of Xidan archway, dealing in soy sauce elbow, soy sauce meat, soy sauce belly and other commodities. Later, Shanxi Merchants withdrew their shares, and Liu Fengxiang’s family began to operate the sauce meat shop alone.
It is said that the slaughtering industry and soy sauce shops in old Beijing are mostly operated by Shandong people. Old Beijing calls them box shops. Most of the boxes are round wooden, with a diameter of about one foot and a height of about three inches. There is a petal shaped wooden support at the bottom of the box. All kinds of cooked foods are shredded and placed separately. The box is divided into eight compartments. One food box contains eight kinds of pork food, so it is called “pig eight samples”.
When dignitaries and dignitaries hold banquets, the box shop delivers boxes to the door at the agreed time, which can be called the prototype of takeout. The leftover materials left after cutting meat and filling the box are wrapped in “paper” and sold in a funnel shape. It is called “box dish”, which is the food that people can afford.
Xidan used to have many sauce meat shops. Chongyi, a scholar of the late Qing Dynasty, recorded in the miscellaneous notes of the ruling and opposition since Daoxian: “Xidan has a sauce elbow shop, which is called Tianfu Zhai, which is very refined. Its meat is rotten and mellow, and other meat products are prepared. Unlike other restaurants, it has covered more than 100 years. Later, due to the complexity of the content, some friends issued a number next to it, which is also called Tianfu. Because it has been involved in litigation for several years, it is now renamed Tianfu Chunji.”
Because of this passage, many people believe that Tianfu is Tianfu Zhai. However, there are other historical records: Tianfu Zhai is located in the east of Xidan pailou Road, tianfuchun is at No. 3, Xidan North Street, and Tianfu is at No. 144, Xuanwumen inner street.
In other words, many soy sauce meat shops once coexisted on the streets of Xidan for a historical period, and the atmosphere of competition has lasted for a long time. At the beginning of its establishment, Liu Ji had only one facade, dealing in cooked meat products. Liu Fengxiang pays attention to the sauce making process. It is cooked with spices such as fennel, pepper, Amomum villosum, cardamom, cinnamon and Angelica dahurica, as well as aged soup and superior yellow sauce.
Liu Ji’s sauce elbow is not greasy, lean meat is not firewood, the skin is purple and glowing, the meat is rotten to the entrance, and the taste is very beautiful. However, because his store is small and nameless, his business is always small.
One day, Liu Fengxiang went to the market to buy goods as usual. When he passed a second-hand goods stall, he accidentally caught a glimpse of an old plaque with three large facial characters of “Tianfu Hao”. His writing was vigorous and powerful, and the artistic conception of “Heaven’s blessing” was even better. So he bought back the old plaque, trimmed it slightly and hung it on the lintel of the shop.
The ancient capital often gathered literati and scholars from all over the country. The calligraphy of Tianfu was linked with the dream of soy sauce meat, and the shocking effect was definitely not lost to Jay Chou who rode an electric car for the first time. Tianfu’s fame began to spread and its business prospered. Until the reign of Guangxu, the protagonist of the story appeared.
Once, Liu Deming, Liu Fengxiang’s descendant, accidentally fell asleep while guarding the stove at night. He cooked his elbow over the fire and was hit by a “repeat customer” living in jiuxingbu street. After tasting it, the guest praised it one after another.
It is said that the guest was a court official of the interior ministry. He asked Tianfu to carefully process and make several sauce elbows for Cixi. Cixi was very satisfied after eating, so she asked Tianfu to send soy sauce meat into the palace regularly and gave a pass waist token.
Tianfu was very popular in the late Qing Dynasty. Lu Runxiang, the No. 1 scholar in the 13th year of Tongzhi reign of the Qing Dynasty, wrote a horizontal plaque of “four far famous” for Tianfu. Weng Tongfu, the emperor of two generations, also wrote a plaque for Tianfu. Peking Opera masters Mei Lanfang, Shang Xiaoyun, ye Shenglan, Yuan Shihai and others are frequent visitors of Tianfu.
Until Puyi ascended the throne, Tianfu was still one of the court’s favorite pickled meat. After the 1911 Revolution, Puyi yearned for Western life, wore suits and ate Western food, and despised the traditional cuisine of the Qing palace, but Tianfu sauce elbow was a must-have on his Western dining table.
In 1959, Puyi was granted a special amnesty. The next day, he rode his bike to Xidan Tianfu to buy sauce elbows.
In the eighth year of Xianfeng (1858), Huifeng hall was established in Guanyinsi street, Dashilan, Qianmen, mainly engaged in red and white weddings. In the 28th year of Guangxu (1902), Zhang Zuyin, a native of Shandong Province (also known as Zhang kexuan), panxia Huifeng hall, and adjusted his main business to Shandong flavor dishes.
Zhang Zuyin and Li Jiliang, the dry son of Li Lianying, the eunuch in charge of the imperial palace of the Qing Dynasty, are brothers of “worship the handle”, and they have a close personal relationship. Both Li Lianying and Anhai were great eunuchs who were very popular for a time. Anhai was happy and sad at the most glorious moment of his life and died in a political struggle. As his “successor”, Li Lianying knew more about introvertion and prudence.
One day, Li Lianying, with a sad face, came home and was asked by Li Jiliang about the reason. It turned out that Cixi and Guangxu were angry and had a poor appetite for several days. The imperial dining room changed its way to cook her food. She only took a few bites and put down her chopsticks. And when she was unhappy, she vented her anger at the slaves, and even Li Lianying was not spared.
Li Jiliang seized the opportunity: “it’s not a matter for the old Buddha not to eat or drink. You can’t afford to be hungry. One of my brothers opened a restaurant in Dashilan outside the front door. He is best at stewing dishes. The juice is thick and fresh, and the taste is thick and not greasy. Why don’t you prepare one for the old Buddha and let her change her mouth?”
Li Lianying felt that her son was right, so she asked him to go to Huifeng hall immediately. That night, Li Lianying came into the palace with a box full of food and put it on the table of Cixi. Cixi tasted it. It was really oily but not greasy, fragrant and palatable. While eating, she asked which royal chef made such a delicious dish.
Having had enough to eat and drink, Cixi learned that it was the dish of Huifeng hall outside the front door. When she saw that there were four treasures of study on the table next to her, she took the opportunity to inscribe three big characters “Huifeng hall”. At the same time, the message was: give Huifeng hall a pair of “round cage carrying poles” and inlaid with gold hoops as a waist token to deliver meals to the palace at any time.
A few days later, the gold plaque inscribed by Cixi was hung on the gate of Huifeng hall. From then on, Huifeng hall became famous and its business became more and more prosperous.
There are “eight halls” in old Beijing, which represent the highest level in the restaurant industry. They are Huifeng hall, Juxian hall, Fushou hall, Tianfu hall, Huixian hall, Fuqing hall, Qinghe hall and Tonghe hall. These restaurants usually have two or three quadrangles, dozens of houses, and can hold a table for eight people, fifty or sixty tables at the same time.
Li Jiliang personally paid for the renovation of Huifeng hall, added elegant seats, and even set up a troupe. Shang Xiaoyun, one of the four famous stars, was once the red horn of Huifeng hall. Therefore, exquisite dishes were only the basis, and the nobles at that time needed all-round luxury enjoyment.
The folk dishes of Huifeng hall won the plaque inscribed by Cixi. Huifeng hall has become a well-known “eight halls”, in which Li Jiliang plays a self-evident role, and what he has obtained is left to the imagination of readers for the time being.
After the Republic of China, Huifeng hall remained famous. Northern Warlords Duan Qirui, Zhang Xun and Wu Peifu, as well as opera masters Mei Lanfang, Shang Xiaoyun, Xun Huisheng and Yang Xiaolou often came here for gatherings.
After fireworks in the late Qing Dynasty and the situation of the Republic of China, the “Hall” brand that operated Shandong cuisine has closed down. Only “Huifeng hall” survived and became the only fruit left in the eight halls in the past.
In 1845, Gao Guiyou, a native of Xiazhu village in Wuqing County, Zhili, went to Tianjin to study arts and worked as a boy at the Liu family steamed food shop on the side of the south canal. After three years of graduation, Gao Guiyou, a little named Gouzi, set up a snack shop specializing in steamed stuffed buns – “Deju”.
The steamed stuffed bun of dog Zi tastes soft, delicious and not greasy. It looks like a flower in full bloom, with complete color, aroma and shape. Deju’s fame spread all over the country, and Gouzi showed his management talent. He put bowls and chopsticks on each table. The guest put the change in the bowl and gave the dog as many steamed stuffed buns as he got. Guests leave after eating without delay, which is the prototype of fast food restaurant.
Rumors about nearly 200 years ago always beautify and distort, but Gouzi is really busy. Old guests jokingly say that “Gouzi sells steamed stuffed buns and ignores people”. Over time, the cry went smoothly, and the reputation of “Goubuli” gradually surpassed that of “Deju” and all peers on the ground in Tianjin.
The craft of making steamed stuffed buns with dogs is really not simple. Pork is mixed with an appropriate amount of water in proportion, accompanied by spareribs soup or tripe soup, plus small grinding sesame oil, special soy sauce, minced ginger, minced green onion and seasoning to form steamed stuffed bun stuffing. Steamed stuffed bun skin is made of semi hairy noodles, rolled into a round skin with a diameter of about 8.5cm and uniform thickness. It is made by wrapping stuffing, carefully kneading and folding, and steaming in the furnace.
The key to Goubuli steamed stuffed bun lies in its exquisite materials and fine production. It has unique work in material selection, formula, mixing, kneading, rolling and other processes. Each steamed stuffed bun has 18 folds, no more, no less, and the pleated flowers are symmetrical. Just out of the drawer, the dog ignored the steamed stuffed bun. It was neat in size, white in color, soft in face, fragrant but not greasy.
It is rumored that Yuan Shikai, then governor of Zhili, trained the new army in Tianjin and once brought “Goubuli” steamed stuffed bun to Beijing as a tribute to Cixi. Cixi was so happy after tasting it that she commented: “animals in the mountains, wild geese in the clouds, land cattle and sheep, fresh at the bottom of the sea, not as good as dogs, ignore the fragrance, and live a long life.”
The saying that eating Goubuli steamed stuffed bun can live a long life needs to be studied, but Goubuli steamed stuffed bun itself does live a long life. After being praised by Cixi, Goubuli branch opened more and more, and its fame spread further and further.
Until the Spring Festival Gala in 2000, Feng Gong performed the cross talk “old songs and new songs” with Guo Donglin for the first time, and strung up the program for nearly ten minutes with the burden of “dog ignoring steamed stuffed bun”. This is the last peak of Goubuli steamed stuffed bun in popularity since the new century.
“We can’t boast about this dozen bamboo boards. The traditional gourmet dog ignores steamed stuffed buns. What’s good about this dog ignores steamed stuffed buns? It’s thin skin, big stuffing and 18 folds, just like a flower.”
In the 40th year of Qianlong reign (1775), Ma Qingrui opened a shop in the south of xiyueqiang road in the old Qianmen arrow tower, mainly engaged in beef and mutton with halal sauce. The Western moon wall looks like a curved moon. Ma Qingrui takes the meaning of “the prosperity of the moon” and named it Yueshengzhai.
According to the records of the old Beijing Suozhi · Shisi: “Yueshengzhai is famous for selling mutton in sauce. It can be packed in boxes for a long time, and the taste remains unchanged after several months. It is paved on Hubu street, with official offices on the left and right. This Zhai has been independent of China for decades, but it is not expropriated by public.”
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, six Yamen and other institutions were concentrated on both sides of the central axis south of Tiananmen. In the Qing Dynasty, this area was called “Qianbu corridor”.
There were four gates in the imperial city of the Qing Dynasty, with Dong’an gate in the East, Xi’an gate in the west, Tian’an gate in the South and Di’an gate in the north. During the Ming Dynasty, the four city gates were forbidden areas, and people were not allowed to approach them. In the Qing Dynasty, Dong’an gate, Xi’an gate and Di’an gate were opened to the children of the Eight Banners living in the inner city, which gradually brought smoke and fire.
South of Tiananmen Square and north of daqingmen gate, the two sides of Yudao become the offices of the six ministries, the five governments and military aircraft affairs. Because there are 110 East-West corridor rooms on the left and right, the name “Qianbu corridor” comes from this.
Later, Yueshengzhai moved to Hubu street. The relocation address is very particular. It is directly opened next to the gate of the Yamen of the patriarchal government, close to the Hubu street named after the Hubu yamen, so it is named “Hubu Street horse record”. Due to the particularity of geographical location, most of its business objects are court servants and government officials.
During the Jiaqing period, all the doctors of the imperial hospital came to the back kitchen of the store, and some even personally put forward suggestions on the cooking of mutton. The restaurant was described in the miscellaneous notes of the government and the public since Daoxian: “the sauce mutton made in Hubu street in Zhengyangmen is the first in Beijing. It is sold widely in Waifu and the price is incomparably high, but buyers are not deterred.”
In October of the 12th year of Guangxu (1886), Cixi celebrated her birthday. The civil and military ministers of the Manchu Dynasty searched everywhere for rare treasures and prepared birthday gifts for her. A minister took the wrong side of the sword: “there are countless treasures in the palace. I have to give the old Buddha a different birthday gift.”
Therefore, he specially came to Yueshengzhai, prepared a beautifully packaged soy sauce meat gift box, and tied the silk ribbon of “wishing the Empress Dowager a long life”. After tasting the pickled meat of Yueshengzhai, Cixi praised it again and again, and gave Yueshengzhai four waist badges as a voucher to enter and leave the palace. Every other day, Yueshengzhai will send special soy sauce meat to the imperial dining room.
Later, Cixi “withdrew the curtain to the government” and retired to the summer palace. There must be a night meal every night, and there must be soy sauce, baked cakes and porridge from Yueshengzhai. The shopkeeper of Yueshengzhai should take turns to be on duty in the imperial dining room of the summer palace.
When Cixi traveled to Kunming Lake by boat, she often tied two small boats behind her, one from the imperial dining room and the other from the old Ma family shop in Yueshengzhai.
One winter, the shopkeeper of Yueshengzhai smoked in the back mountain. He accidentally caused a mountain fire and was beheaded according to the law. Cixi said, “what shall I eat if I kill him?” In order to eat soy sauce meat, Cixi pardoned the death penalty of Yueshengzhai shopkeeper, and Ma Ji’s soy sauce meat has been fragrant to this day.
During the period of the Republic of China, the Yamen in the area of “Qianbu corridor” changed their original functions. The northern part of the zongrenfu was razed to the ground and sold to ordinary people, while the southern part was occupied by the fire brigade during the Republic of China. The lane between the Ministry of household and the Ministry of officials is called “Fugui Street” by the common people.
On May 4, 1919, dissatisfied with the signing of the peace treaty of Versailles by Chinese representatives participating in the Paris peace conference, more than 3000 patriotic students organized a patriotic parade. They were blocked from Tiananmen Square to dongjiaomin lane, bypassed Fugui street and burned Zhao’s house, thus changing China’s history.
Cixi has been in power for many years. There are countless official histories, secret histories and folk unofficial histories related to her. The description of her clothing, food, housing and transportation in the official history is more for shaping her character and describing historical events. The relevant records in the folk unofficial history come from the stores and brands she “brought goods”.
It’s hard to tell whether the stories related to Cixi are true or false. In addition to the time-honored brands described in the article, there are stories loved by Cixi, such as the fried enema in fuxingju, the golden tower of the Xue family in Dacheng County, the guixinzhai soy sauce garden that can bring vegetables to the Palace in Imperial clothes, and the mingyuanzhai jade flour steamed bread Cixi accidentally tasted when she checked her mausoleum.
The story is difficult to study. Feelings have become the most prominent label of time-honored brands, but they are definitely not the only selling point.
Consumption is escalating and the national tide is rising. The signboards of time-honored brands are only an opportunity to rise again. Only by keeping up with the times and meeting the ever-changing and changing needs of mass consumers can they be recognized by the market again.



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