On the menu at 중경신선로
are some assorted 요리s, but the highlight we ordered was a heaping plate of 동파육. For the uninformed, here's what it looks like (for authenticity, graphic lifted from 중경신선로's page, linked above).
Of course 동파육 is named for that famous Song Dynasty statesman/philosopher/poet 소식 Su Shi
(1037-1101). Su Shi liked to call himself 東坡居士 동파거사 and gorge himself on this pork dish that eventually took his name as its patron saint. He also spent a forced vacation on Hainan Island
before it became a tropical resort paradise where businessmen go for 37 hole weekend rounds of golf.
In honor of the man who bequeathed 동파육 to us mortals, an entry on Su Shi (Anyone who wants to read a page with a bit more detail in modern Chinese about the following story, please look here
During the reign of Emperor Shenzong 신종 of the Song (r. 1068-1086), there was a rivalry going with the Liao barbarians to the north of China. Once they sent an envoy to the Chinese court to demonstrate once and for all the cultural superiority of the Liao people. He threw down several difficult challenges of the form "here's a line of poetry, compose a parallel construction." The emperor and his court tried and tried but came up with nothing. Finally they called out their secret weapon: Su Shi. Su handily composed some parallel poetry to shut up the Liao envoy.
Then, when his composition caused the Liao envoy to stand dumbfounded for a moment, Su rushed in for the coup de grace
. "Composing poetry is easy. But sometimes it's hard to see
it." Then he grabbed a brush and proceeded to write the following:
☞ 亭: 정자 정, 景: 볕 경, 畫: 그림 화 (note that the part immediately above the line on the very bottom is sometimes written as 囚 instead of 曰, as you see it here), 老: 늙을 로, 拖: 끌 타, 笻: 대이름 공, 首: 머리 수, 雲: 구름 운, 暮:저물 모, 江: 물 강, 蘸: 담글 잠, 峯: 봉우리 봉
The Liao envoy spent some time looking at these mal-formed and twisted characters before he gave up. Su closed with the parting shot, if you can't even make out this poem, then you shouldn't open your mouth again on the topic (The Sanchon Hunjang is far too dim to take this subtle of a hint, that's why I continue to post here on poetry-related topics ^^). Then he gave the solution:
Long 長 pavilion 亭, short 短 sunrays 景: a picture 畫 without 無 man 人,
An old 老 big 大 sideways 横 drags 拖 his thin 瘦 bamboo 竹 staff 笻.
Turn 回 head 首, cut 斷 clouds 雲: a slanted 斜 sun 日 evening 暮,
Twisted 曲 river 江, upside down 倒 holds 蘸 to the side 側 mountain 山 peaks 峰.
Um, it's not great English, but I was just hoping to show what Su Shi had done with his funny writing to hint at the presence of unseen graphs. All together, he has compressed the following 28 characters into 12. For better understanding of the verse, as opposed to what he had done by writing it as above:
長亭短景無人畫，Long pavilion and short sunrays: a picture without people,
老大橫拖瘦竹笻. An old man drags his thin bamboo staff sideways.
回首斷雲斜日暮，He turns his head to see cleft clouds and the slanting rays of the evening sun,
曲江倒蘸側山峰. A twisting river holds the upside down image of mountain peaks from the side.
Very clever, Mr. Su. Now, if you don't mind, pass some more of that 동파육! ^^