Beijing Roast Duck


The Writing Center invited instructors of all courses and disciplines to nominate student writing that was innovative, complex, and that thoughtfully responded to an assignment. This was an opportunity for student writers to be published to help strengthen their sense of purpose, build confidence in their own abilities, and even to discover a talent and a passion that they did not know they had.


The following piece; written by student Ning Wei Wang won the competition.


(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons; photo by Fotoos Van Robin)

By Ning Wei Wang


When asked about which food is the most popular in Beijing, most people believe that Beijing Roast Duck will be an important choice, but some people consider other delicious snacks. In my opinion, Beijing Roast Duck is the most delicious food. According to my experience, even if I have tasted a lot of Beijing food, I still have special personal interests in roast duck. The relationship between the roast duck and myself is similar to that between my grandpa and me. I come from a very traditional family, so my grandparents told me which restaurants are the most authentic, which food is made by the most famous chef, and which delicious food I should choose.

When I was five years old, my grandpa and I went to a very famous restaurant in Beijing. The waiter gave us a very big roast duck, which was cut in pieces. Almost every culture has rules to signal the beginning of the meal. Similarly, waiter gave us a lot of vegetables, some jam, and some special bread, that is made from some spices and flour. My grandpa and I literally enjoyed the special rules and, not being surprised, it was the beginning of our eating enjoyment. I put some vegetable and meat in the special bread, and put all of them in my mouth. In truth, this first course was nothing compared to the main course that followed. The delicious oil and special smell of that Roast duck filled my being, beyond my imagination. I was so happy and excited that I forgot myself as a diner in the restaurant.

My grandpa told me that cooking the roast duck is a very difficult work. Firstly, they need to choose the hypertrophic healthy duck that lives in forests and ponds. Secondly, they need to kill the duck and apply different kinds of spice in the duck's body. Roast duck, especially which developed in Chinese traditional culture, is divided into four different parts. At last, the chefs cook the duck in a very secret room. When we tasted the delicious duck, we remembered the hard and sophisticated process.

When we question the history of Beijing roast duck, some professors believe the first roast duck originated from Liao dynasty, but my teacher argues that Ming dynasty is the better answer. If I were asked this question, I would have a different answer. The development of cooking roast duck made people do research in Chinese culture, which can be explained by the abstraction. An abstraction can be explained by historic stories, by literature articles and by a lot of ancient sayings. The Beijing roast duck is from the Ming dynasty, but the good spices found in roast duck, originate in the Liao dynasty.


Beijing is one of the oldest cities in China, characterized by its history and culture. I think it's crucial for me to share the Chinese culture to everyone. Nowadays people in growing numbers are beginning to realize that the importance of preserving the Chinese traditional culture, the most important step is to know the Chinese food.

Every generation of old cooks have the stories of the history of Roast duck, sharing the stories can help people understand the culture and gain a sense of pride and belonging. There is an ancient Chinese saying: the most famous food in Beijing is Roast duck. In truth, according to the history of Chinese, there are two different ways to cook the Roast duck, making famous for the Roast duck the world over. The first one is named the "Roasted Duck in stove," the other is named the "Braised furnace Roast Duck." The difference between the two is that the Roast Duck in Stove is famous for its cooking method, while the Braised furnace Roast Duck is famous for its favor. But both of them have very interesting stories.

About one thousand years ago, after a big war, a very small dynasty named Song appeared in the southern China. For some reasons militarily and economically, the Somg dynasty was much smaller than most other dynasties in Chinese history. Though small, the dynasty was prosperous because it attached great importance to the development of economy. Almost every dynasty has its different food bringing attention to the different culture. Similarly, the Song dynasty had its famous food -- Roast duck. The Zhe Jiang province is rich in duck, so the history of the Peking duck goes back to the Song dynasty. The Song dynasty became richer than before, perhaps prompting the fall of the dynasty. After about one hundred years, the Yuan dynasty was established in the central of China, it became the biggest one in ancient China. After the Yuan dynasty was established, it went to war against to the Song dynasty. After many big battles, the Song dynasty was replaced by the moguls establishing the Yuan dynasty. The Yuan dynasty took the roast duck and put it in Beijing. The cooks in Yuan dynasty had the energy and time, to develop special cooking technology making the Roast duck better than ever before. These are the stories about the Beijing Roast duck.

Of course, when asked about the history of Beijing Roast duck it is inconclusive, some people view that it was from other dynasties in China. Before I wrote this article, I assumed I couldn't write the whole story, because there is no accurate conclusion about the organ of Beijing Roast duck. Conclude with this:

Roast duck, delicious food

Special smells and my mouth in the mood

One day, in my heart

Forget my childhood start

Forget my time of life

But leave

Culture changes, culture of witness

Rise and fall, how time files

The vicissitudes of history

Forever and ever

Appear in my mind

Fresh blood in my heart

Honey taste in my mouth

Roast duck, appear in the heyday

Roast duck, develop in the war

How time flies, how time flies

III. Traditional food: Culture lost and Forgotten

The question of whether the food is cooked by a traditional method or modern cooking method is brought into consideration. Some people argue that the traditional method is the most important way for heritage to develop the culture. However, some others believe that with the rapid development of science and technology, people have found new ways to cook food and improve the quality of life. I think traditional food is more important than the modern cooking method. If you want to know my opinion, I will share it with you.

When my grandpa was a young boy, at no time had the cooking method changed for centuries. Never would modern cooking be used in the Chinese cooking method. Every family cooked the food by themselves. My grandpa's father, a famous cook, worked in a restaurant; and he felt very proud of his cooking. My grandpa felt very comfortable and secure when he first time ate the Chinese food. My grandpa always had a sense of pride and honor, because our family would make authentic food. The relationship between my grandpa and cooking is similar to that between two brothers. Because my grandfather cooks different kinds of traditional food for his family members almost fifty years. The Chinese traditional food can let us know where the famous restaurants are in the old city. Bringing us to realize the old customs, and which food we need to taste. Long before people understood the importance of protecting the culture, they always kept to the traditional ways of cooking the meal.

Sixty years later, my grandpa, son of the famous cook, almost forgot all the methods of cooking the traditional food. According to his special experience, as a child and he wished people understood the importance of the traditional culture, so he cooked traditional food his whole life to show us the source of emotion. Furthermore, a lot of fresh vegetables and meat couldn't be purchased in the supermarket in Beijing. The special smell of the food disappeared from the old city. As a result, the traditional food, was forgotten by the people causing everyone to feel the disappointment. In a sense, people forgetting the traditional food, means they forgot their culture and home.

Essentially, I didn't think I could write this article because I seldom tasted the true traditional food. In truth, if my grandpaës father had never been a cook, I would not have the understanding about Chinese culture. The writing ideas and subject would have never occurred to me, before I noticed the culture of the lonely and down. Without the new technology and new way of life, the people living in the ancient time were hoping to remember the traditional cooking methods. Now people are surrounded by modern cooking and processed food. People enjoy fast food and frozen food, but it is not only bad for the health, but also makes people forget their traditional culture.

Because of these reasons, we can conclude that the traditional food is a good way to let the people remember the culture.

Little poem:

Traditional food, my special memory in my childhood

Traditional food, my grandpa is proud of traditional method

Traditional cook, my grandpa spent his whole life knowing it

Traditional culture, my grandpa loved it all the life

Which cook is best, what is the culture truth?

When grandpa was young, he grew up in the traditional culture

When grandpa was young, he love the traditional food

When grandpa was young, he was surround by the culture

When grandpa was old, he stay in the lonely and lonely

Fallen leaves, dancing in the air, fallen into the ground

Traditional Culture, after thousand years, forgotten by the people

Lonely in the heart, lonely in the heart

Return back my memory in my heart,

Burst tears in my eyes

Day and night, day by day, years after years

Cycles of the seasons, how times files

Cook the meal in the heart, felt lonely in the heart

When the people realize, they return back to the culture

My grandpa and I, we are waitin


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