Su Shi, also known as Su Dongpo, was one of the most famous scholars in ancient China.
His hometown was Meishan in Sichuan.
Su Shi still has a lot of fans today, including this man, who went to all the trouble of recreating 石头宴–the Stone Banquet.
Each of the dishes is a collection of food-shaped stones.
Pork ribs, deep-fried meatballs, pork belly, plums, cherries. . .
He also has other stones, shaped like maps, calligraphy characters, et cetera.
Like a true Sichuanese, Su Shi was an innate optimist. He was really one of those people who, when given lemons, would make lemonade, lemon pie, lemon chicken, and so much more. When he was banished, he didn’t waste time wallowing in self-pity. Instead, as a foodie, he devoted his time to improving and inventing new dishes.
Dongpo pork sausage. Spicy and salty.
Dongpo bamboo shoots. Tender, fresh and savoury.
And the most famous one–Dongpo pork. Fatty but not greasy.
A big piece of pork belly, equal portions of fat and lean meat. Pan-fried, then braised.
Su Shi wasn’t the only poet with a dish named after him.
About three hundred years before him, Li Bai, the Immortal Poet, came to Sichuan with his family. Li Bai wasn’t born in Sichuan. But he lived here for two decades.
One of his favourite dishes was marinated duck.
Ducks can be stir-fried,
One of the most famous duck dishes is Zhangcha duck—樟茶鸭
The leaves used in smoking the duck come from the camphor tree in Sichuan.
The drakes, or male ducks, are marinated in diluted saltwater for eight hours, then smoked for two hours.
When Li Bai went to serve under Emperor Xuanzong, he decided to share his favourite food.
He added rice wine, wolfberries, and Chinese ginseng to the duck, then sealed the bowl with a wetted piece of paper and put it in a steamer.
Emperor Xuanzong liked the dish so much that he named it after Li Bai.
Understandably, living in Sichuan has become a stressful situation for pigs and ducks alike.
Some of them tried (unsuccessfully) to make a run for it.
Some tried to blend in with protected species, like flamingos.
While some have simply given up on life.