Feature: Chinese chefs offer Sichuan cuisine at Confucius Institute in Dublin

by Zhang Qi

DUBLIN, May 16 (Xinhua) — A special banquet to promote China’s food culture was hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University College Dublin (UCD) here on Wednesday night, attracting nearly one hundred local Chinese food afficionados.

Former Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, China’s new Ambassador to Ireland He Xiangdong, the Secretary General of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Niall Burgess, and UCD President Prof. Andrew J. Deeks attended the banquet, alongside invited guests.

The event dubbed “Confucius Institute Banquet — A Taste of Sichuan”, gave participants a rare chance to enjoy authentic Sichuan-style dishes prepared by seven master chefs coming from Sichuan Tourism University (STU) in southwest China.

The dishes included two starters, four main courses and two Chinese-style desserts, followed by tea exclusively from the mountains of Sichuan province. On-the-spot bilingual introduction was provided by a food culture professor from the STU.

“To meet the tastes of the Irish people, we have replaced chicken with locally sourced scallops in creating a new dish based on the famous Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken dish, and used the same locally sourced codfish to replace pork in making a new creation based on the Fish-Flavoured Shredded Pork dish,” said Prof. Du Li from the STU.

Hu Jinxiang, a master chef of Sichuan cuisine who is also good at making dough figurines, the art of which has been proclaimed intangible cultural heritage in China, demonstrated his skills in dough sculpturing and sugar painting, which elicited significant interest from the guests.

Jointly organized by UCD’s Confucius Institute and STU, the banquet feasted the guests with beautifully prepared, delicious Sichuan dishes while providing them a chance to learn how to prepare such dishes and hear the stories behind them.

“The banquet has also enabled the guests to know a bit more about the Chinese history and culture apart from enjoying the Chinese food,” said Prof. Liming Wang, director of UCD Confucius Institute, who represents the Irish side of the institute, which was jointly launched by the Chinese and Irish governments in collaboration with UCD and the Beijing-based Renmin University of China in 2006.

“By holding the inaugural Confucius Institute Banquet, we intend to build it into a brand in promoting the Chinese culinary culture in Ireland by introducing more varieties of Chinese cuisine in the future so as to expand the ways to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries,” said Wang.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Deeks said that the banquet is the first of its kind held at the UCD Confucius Institute, which is the only purpose-built such institute in the world.

UCD’s is one of the earliest Confucius Institutes established in the world. It was recognized as one of the model institutes by the relevant Chinese authorities due to its outstanding contributions to the promotion of cultural exchanges between China and Ireland.

Currently, there are three Confucius Institutes in Ireland. The other two are located in Cork in the south and in Galway in the west.

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