Date
20 November 2017
A Peking duck comes with the works.This sumptuous, shiny dish takes pride of place in the 150-year history of  Quanjude restaurant . Photo: WSJ
A Peking duck comes with the works.This sumptuous, shiny dish takes pride of place in the 150-year history of Quanjude restaurant . Photo: WSJ

Peking duck: What’s hístory got to do with it?

A Chinese restaurant in Beijing claims to have reached a sales milestone — 196 million Peking ducks and counting.

If the number is mind-blowing, its because its masked in the mists of history. Quanjude restaurant is 150 years old.

It even has a new museum that tracks the history of its most famous dish and probably helps the public make sense of its fuzzy logic.

“We sell at least 1,000 ducks every day,” staffer Wei Tiantian told the Wall Street Journal. “Honestly, not all work we do can be very accurate.”

Quanjude was founded in 1864 and has grown into an international chain of 100 restaurants serving roast ducks from Yangon to Melbourne.

The new museum opened last week in 1,000 square meters of space within the restaurant complex.

The exhibit contains more than 500 items including a receipt for a 1901 purchase, advertisements from the pre-communist era and photos of famous figures eating roast duck from Chairman Mao to former United States president Richard Nixon.

A golden duck sculpture greets visitors at the entrance. Then they’re taken through a series of exhibits showing how a duck is raised, slaughtered, cooked and served as Peking duck at the dinner table.

It goes like this: the animals are force-fed to make them plump and before being placed in an oven, they’re pumped full of air to make them look rounder and brushed with sugar water to make them shinier. They’re dried for 24 hours, then roasted, often with peach tree wood, at 200 degrees celsius.

A Peking duck is usually served with pancakes, scallions and sauce. The Quanjude variety is not necessarily tastier than Peking ducks from other restaurants, but at 238 yuan (US$38), it’s a tad pricier.

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