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Confucius’s attitude on bite and sup

2014-06-12 17:16:25



One chapter in Among the Xiang and the Dang of The Analects specially depicts the Confucius’s habit in bite and sup.

The chapter goes like this:


When he ate he was not averse to refined rice, nor to finely minced meat. He would not eat rice that was rancid or had gone rotten, nor fish and meat that had spoiled. He would not eat food that that had a bad color or smell; he would not eat food that that was not cooked to the proper level, or which was out of season; nor would he eat food that was not properly sliced, or did not come with the appropriate condiments. Even if there was a lot of meat, he would not eat it greater quantity than rice. It was only wine with which he did not limit himself, but at the same time, he never lost control of himself. He would not drink wine or eat dried meat that came from the marketplace. He would not refrain from eating food with ginger, but he would not overdo it. When there was a sacrifice for the ruler, he would not keep the meat overnight. As for sacrificial meats in general, he would not keep them more than three days, and if they were more than three days old, he would not eat them. He did not chat while eating, and did not talk after retiring. No matter what kind of simple fare it might be, such as coarse rice or broth, he would always make an offering, doing so with due solemnity.

He would not refrain from eating food with ginger, but he would not overdo it.

From this chapter we can find that Confucius is quite concerned about health care, especially about eating habits. Someone may be confused by this, since Confucius ever praised his student Yan Hui as a worthy “With a single bamboo bowl of rice and gourd-cup of water he lived in a back alley”. Isn’t it a self-contradiction? Actually this is not the same matter. Confucius appreciated Yan Hui for his personality of enjoying simple life, while his requirement on eating and drinking mirrored Confucius’s concern on sanitation but not luxury. What is more, in his opinion people can drink without limit only if it causes no coma or confusion. His idea about drinking deeply influences the later generation of Chinese.

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