Lý do gì mà người thời Minh ở Trung Quốc thích gia vị cay đến vậy?

nhà thám hiểm Zheng He đã khiến các loại gia vị ở Trung Quốc trở nên phổ biến, nhưng chính hoạt động buôn bán tư nhân - cả bất hợp pháp và bị nhà nước trừng phạt - đã khiến  các loại gia vị này lan rộng.


Although there are records (tài liệu ghi chép) of spices being imported into China dating back to the Han dynasty (202 B.C. – A.D. 220), they were a precious rarity (độ hiếm) for the majority of Chinese history — an exclusive privilege (đặc quyền) for emperors and members of the elite (giới thượng lưu).

That began to change in the medieval period (thời trung cổ), as China took advantage of new maritime trade networks that would expand rapidly and reach their peak during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

Even by the standards of Chinese dynasties, the Ming had a prodigious appetite (thèm ăn quá mức) for spices. In its early years, the court expended over 3,500 kilograms of spices every three years on religious rituals (nghi lễ tôn giáo) and sacrifices (hiến tế) to gods and ancestors. In 1456, the Imperial Hospital made a one-off request for 2,500 kilograms of spices for use in medicines.

Feeding this demand for spices became something of an obsession (nỗi ám ảnh). During the reign of the Emperor Wanli (1563-1620), the court ordered the imperial treasury (ngân khố hoàng gia) to maintain a stockpile (dự trữ) of at least 10,000 kilograms of key spices for use each year. ...Between 1405 and 1433, Zheng made seven major voyages (chuyến vượt biển), venturing further than any imperial fleet (hạm đội hoàng gia) had attempted before. His ships returned laden with exotic goods, including spices from Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and even East Africa.

In the process, his fleet helped foster, for arguably the first time, a truly mass market for spices in China. Around the time of Zheng He’s voyages, several major plagues (dịch bệnh) broke out in China. Although the spices Zheng brought back — everything from eaglewood (trầm hương) to Javanese cardamom (bạch đậu khấu Java) — could not cure these diseases, they were appreciated by medical practitioners (bác sĩ) and patients alike for their palliative properties (đặc tính làm dịu).

Inevitably, the influx of new flavors and aromatics (hương thơm) from overseas made its way into Chinese cuisine. Spice use in food became pervasive (rộng khắp) during the Ming, including pepper, cumin, and cardamom.

source: Sixth Tone,

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