Wealthy Chinese Diners Are Spending Hundreds Of Dollars On Feasts Inspired By Classic Literature

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Photo: Jing Daily

The burgeoning interest in traditional culture among China’s newly wealthy, which has manifested in everything from high-priced tea to art, travel and fashion, is expanding into the culinary world as cashed-up entrepreneurs dish out upwards of 1,500 yuan (US$240) apiece for literature-inspired feasts.As the Financial Times writes this week, some wealthy diners with a penchant for books (and fatigue with Western imports like Pizza Hut) are keen on gastronomic adventures inspired by the 18th-century Chinese literary classic, A Dream of Red Mansions. (Known as “Red Mansions Cuisine” (红楼菜) in Chinese.)

From the article:

Yangzhou’s Xiyuan hotel serves four to five red mansion feasts a day during peak seasons, to what the catering manager calls “Confucius entrepreneurs”: rich business people with a new-found taste for the traditional culture spurned during what I like to call China’s KFC period (decades of breakneck development when fast was the only speed and big the only size that mattered).

“These days entrepreneurs are really interested in traditional culture because they have travelled a lot and seen a lot of the world, and now they are looking for something special,” she says, adding that patrons who want to book dozens of tables at a time are out of luck: there are not enough top-quality ingredients to feed the masses.

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