須知(20) 本份

這會是一位不守本份的義大利人,在台北推出的牛肉麵?或不守本份的台灣人在羅馬推出的beef pasta?

這篇談食物的本份,也談廚子和宴客的本份,簡單言之,就是廚藝上要專攻本科,不要見一個學一個,不但滿人不要擺出一道道銀魚羹、西湖醋魚這些湯湯水水的漢人菜,漢人也不要端出一盤盤烤全羊,一鍋鍋酸白菜豬肉等滿人菜。或如台灣小吃達人以眷村菜示人,或烤肉迷忽然宴請觀音素餐一樣,都是本份錯置的例子。由於缺乏根深柢固的飲食文化教養,「外行」做出來的菜就都差那麼一點點,空而不實,這是袁老認為大不智且無法認同的行為。

他以成語「邯郸故步」、「畫虎不成反類犬」來比喻這種模仿失敗的尶尬。

戰國時代趙國的都城在邯郸,據說該城的人走路的姿態很好看,優雅而輕快。有位燕國少年千里而去模倣,甚至刻意忘掉以前自己怎麼走路的,結果不但學不像,連走路的基本功也忘了,只好爬回燕國。比喻模仿他人不到家,反把原來自己會的東西忘了。

當然這不是說不學本份以外的菜,學無止境,當然可以學,只是不要拿出來請客就是了,否則遇到如袁枚這樣的完美主義者,還惹出一堆批評,何必呢?這讓我想起寫作之事,很少人是小說、詩歌、劇本都可以寫的全才,能專攻一種就很難能可貴了。即使有的作家號稱各種文體都來,但真正擅長且寫出名號的,僅有一種。你能想像海明威寫詩嗎?文字就和食材一樣,就是那些,人人可用,但端琢拿揑不同,結果就不一樣。

做學問更是如此,秀才為了考試中第,去模仿老師或主考官的文章體式,以迎合對方口味,結果反而金榜不題名,没没無名一生。我看過沈從文早期模仿西方文體的作品,假惺惺完全看不下去,等到他發揮湘西鄉下人「本份」,寫出「邊城」一系列有鄉土靈魂的作品,才得一代盛名,流傳百世。

以飲食喻人生,「認識己長,發揮己長」,袁老確實說得透徹。

(原文: 須知單本分)

滿洲菜多燒煮,漢人菜多羹湯,童而習之,故擅長也。漢請滿人,滿請漢人,各用所長之菜,轉覺入口新鮮,不失邯鄲故步。今人忘其本分,而要格外討好。漢請滿人用滿菜,滿請漢人用漢菜,反致依樣葫蘆,有名無實,畫虎不成反類犬矣。秀才下場,專作自己文字,務極其工,自有遇合。若逢一宗師而摹仿之,逢一主考而摹仿之,則掇皮無真,終身不中矣。

(英譯)

Manchurian cuisine has favored roasted and stewed dishes, while Han cuisine centers more on soupy dishes. People growing up eating and cooking their own style of food cook that particular cuisine the best. When Hans and Manchus play host to each other, it’s wise to showcase their own ethnic food to ensure the quality is not compromised in any way, and to avoid the famous misfortune of imitation — A young man, who tries to imitate the graceful walking style of the people of Han Dan, ends up not being able to walk at all. 

Unfortunately, this principle of “knowing your strength and weakness” has been forgotten, and people do the opposite merely to please their guests. When the Hans serve Manchurian cuisine and the Manchus serve Han food, they become superficial imitators of the other. It’s as laughable as an untalented artist who sets out to draw a tiger, but ends up with a dog. 

A scholar should study wholeheartedly, aiming for the highest goal until the day he is recognized. If he chooses to imitate the writing style of his master or the examiner at the official examination for quick success, he would become a shallow intellectual and remain anonymous all his life.

Note:

From 1644-1912, Manchus, the conquerors, and Hans, the conquered, lived rather happily until the 20th century when Doctor Sun Yat-sen, a Hawaii trained Han, and his followers overthrew the Qing dynasty in the name of democracy.  During the preceding 268 years, a diverse food culture prospered and the collective palates of China rejoiced. The Manchurian Han Complete Course is a royal-like banquet consisting of a dazzling number of dishes, many of which are recipes stolen from the Qing imperial kitchen, as legend has it. Generations of Chinese stand-up comedians have reinvented it into an oral form which puts the speed, clarity, and the memorizing capabilities of the artists to the test. Imagine, one hundred grand-sounding dishes enunciated quickly, flawlessly and with as few rests as possible. Among them are: eight animal treasures from the mountain, eight rare sea creatures, eight fowl treasures and eight treasures from the garden.  

Manchurian Han Complete Course (prepared by a restaurant in Hong Kong in 1977 for a Japanese TV show), simulated in the Tao Heung Museum of Food Culture, Fo Tan, Hong Kong (photo credit:

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