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Chairman Mao’s Brain Food

Posted Mar 22 2010 8:28pm

Hoping to learn why Chairman Mao, like me, considered pork belly “brain food”, I found just this :

The local government in Hunan [where Mao was from] has sought to standardize the cooking of the dish [Mao’s favorite pork belly dish], in order to stem the tide of imitations that crowd Chinese restaurants.

According to stringent instructions from the government’s food quality supervision and testing institute, true hong shao rou [red braised pork] can only be made with the meat of rare pigs from Ningxiang county. Officials have designated the pig, which has been bred for nearly 1,000 years, as an “agricultural treasure”.

I tried pork belly from different sorts of pigs (e.g., black pigs) but never noticed a difference.

Hunan Province is also the location of West Lake restaurant, the biggest restaurant in the world. I’ve been watching “The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World,” a wonderful BBC documentary about it. The owner attributes her success to her first husband, who made her furious.

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