Thursday, December 04, 2008

Children on the sauce in Shaoxing

When you think of Shaoxing, you usually think of the yellow rice wine they are famous for. Not to worry, the children in the picture aren't waiting for a new batch of Shaoxing jiu to be drinkable, they are watching the manufacturing of another kind of sauce. They're at the new National Sauce Culture Museum in Shaoxing, and according to that institution's website, the museum "digs up the profound sauce culture of Shaoxing which has famous“ three urns culture“( wine urn, sauce urn, dye urn) and extensive Chinese sauce culture." With admirable candor, the museum goes on to add "It is rooted in the background of Zhejiang province with great culture and adjust to the domestic active market economy and also the trends of building museums by big enterprises abroad .At the same time we are glad to get the support of local tourism department ." The local "big enterprise" behind it is the Shaoxing Zhewei Foods Company, but the website hastens to addthat Prof. Zhao Rongguang of Zhejiang University is in charge of designing and maintaining the museum.

I was tipped off to the existience of the National Sauce Culture Muzeum by an article in the Fall 2008 issue of Flavor & Fortune Magazine, which delivered a little more clarity than the English language component of the museum's website:

This museum tells the history of sauces beginning with the first person known in the sauce industry, Cai Yung (133 - 192 CE). His statue graces the entrance as does a wall telling about sauce culture in China. These and the museum tell, in Chinese and English, how soy sauces were taken to Japan by Monk Jianzhen in 755 CE, and lots more.

The Flavor & Fortune article was written by the magazine's founder/publisher Jacqueline M. Newman, professor and Chinese cookbook collector, who gave a plenary lecture at the 2007 China 1st Sauce Culture International Forum, which dedicated the museum. In her account she reports that "On the way home [the speakers] stopped at a Shaoxing wine factory and tasted and viewed specifics to that local fantastic fermented product."

We have no pictures of the adults on the sauce in Shaoxing.

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