A new exhibition, Les Séductions du palais: cuisiner et manger en Chine, opens this summer at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris from July 19th to August 30th 2012. It offers an extensive retrospective on the culture and history of food in China from 7000 B.D. to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. The collections displayed were gathered in partnership with the National Museum of China and also with the Musée Guimet des Arts Asiatiques, but to a lesser extent. Jean-Paul Desroches, the co-curator who organized the exhibition together with Yan Zhi, the curator of the National Museum of China, explained the import of food in China by underlining that,
"The table and the network of values it implies are anchored in the heart of Chinese civilization -- it is a place of emulation, occasionally of virtuosity, where each and everyone are invited to surpass themselves."...
The periods considered are the Neolithic, the Bronze Age, the Han Dynasty, the Tangs, the Songs and the Qings.
Ensemble of pastries, Tang Dynasty (618-907) © National Museum of China
The exhibit will show the material and intellectual culture of food, looking at the vessel that was used to cook and eat, retrace the inventions of such central foodstuffs as noodles and tea, but also evoke the literature that was born out of gastronomy. The exhibition reveals the impact of material culture and agriculture on the development of new social relations.
It is during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) that the act of eating leads to the development of treatises by Chinese literati shunning the increasing noise and bustle of cities to retire in the mountains. Monographies on mushrooms, spices, citruses and herbs are then written. A relationship between dietetics and meditation is established in a characteristic way.
Lazy Susan installation by Pleix
A contemporary installation inspired by the Lazy Suzan designed by Pleix, a collective of artists, concludes the visit.
Via press release