Human beings are born with individual traits, just as every food has its natural qualities and uses. The great teachers, such as Confucius and Mencius, can’t turn a dim-witted student into a scholar, and neither can an inferior ingredient be made great, even one handled by the greatest chefs in history.
Pig skin should be thin, so there is no unpleasant raw meaty smell
Use chicken at the right maturity. Too old or too young may render the chicken not as tender.
Choose the carps with flat bodies and white bellies. Black-backed ones are undesirable.
Choose the eels from the lakes and streams. Those from the river tend to have more bones that could be a hassle.
Grain-fed ducks are pleasantly plump, fat and white.
The bamboo shoots sprouting from enriched soil have smoother appearances, and taste fresher and sweeter.
Fine ham and mediocre ones look as different as the sky and a deep canyon.
The quality of dried fish filet could be as different as ice and blazed coals.
Overall, a great feast owes 60% of its success to the chef, and 40% to the ingredient buyer.