Many people — myself included — take food very seriously. But it seems China’s upping their food game to new levels entirely with a brand new museum devoted to the history of one of their most prized dishes: the roast duck. Step aside, Iceland Penis Museum, this actually sounds educational and yummy.
The exhibit opened last week at a Beijing branch of Quanjude, one of the city’s most prominent roast duck restaurants. While the restaurant itself has been specializing in the delicacy since 1864, food historians believe roast duck has been in existence for nearly 2,000 years. It’s no surprise, then, that the museum is chock-full of artifacts and installations honoring the delicious and storied waterbird.
China Real Time paid a visit to the premises yesterday, which spans 1,000 square meters and boasts elaborate detailing inside, including a golden duck sculpture that greets visitors out front and a series of sculptures detailing the different steps of the duck-making process inside. The animals are force-fed to make them plump. Before being placed in the oven, their bodies are pumped full of air to make them appear more round and attractive on a platter and brushed with sugar water before being dried for 24 hours. They are then roasted, often with peach tree wood, at temperatures as high as 200C, and served with pancakes, scallions and sauce.
The exhibition contains more than 500 items, Quanjude says, such as a coupon from a duck sale dating back to 1901, advertisements for the restaurant from the Republic of China era and various photos of former Chinese leaders consuming roast duck including Mao Zedong and former prime minister Zhou Enlai, who ate Quanjude duck alongside U.S. president Richard Nixon at the Great Hall of the People during Mr. Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.