Yuan Mei and His Suiyuan Shidan Food Book

Anderson, E. N. Yuan Mei and His Suiyuan Shidan Food Book. KrazyKioti, 23 August 2015. URL : http://www.krazykioti.com/articles/yuan-mei-and-his-suiyuan-shidian-food-book/ (Consulté le 24 août 2015)

Yuan Mei [袁枚]. Suiyuan Shidan [隨園食單]:  The Garden of Accord Food Book. Translated by Beilei Pu. Edited by E. N. Anderson and Jerry Schmidt (intro only, so far),  Riverside, CA. Version of June 2015

Introductory Note

Yuan Mei (1716-1797) was known as a champion of women’s education, a versatile and brilliant poet and writer, and a foodie par excellence.  He earned a jinshi degree, roughly equivalent to a Ph.D. (though demanding much more memorization), at 23, a striking accomplishment.  He duly received high office. In 1748, however, he retired, to live on family income and devote his life to writing, teaching, and eating.  Born and raised in the area of Hangzhou and living his life in the Yangzi delta, he had access to the most sophisticated food culture in China, and indeed in the world at the time.

Yuan participated in an intense, talented world.  The literary and artistic scene in the Yangzi delta was an open, tolerant, peaceful one.  Yuan’s adult life coincided with the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1636-1696), an era of peace and prosperity.  Trade and commerce flourished.  Unusual in Chinese history was the respect for women, at least among the intellectual and literary circles in which Yuan moved.  He may well have known Cao Xueqin, whose great novel Hong Lou Meng idealized the brilliant but fated girls with whom Cao grew up.  He was a friend of Zheng Xie, whose poems speak movingly of women of all ages and in all walks of life.  The wider context—footbinding, Neo-Confucian morality, and all—was terribly harsh on women, but Yuan and many others tried to give them the fairest chance possible. […]

The title literally means “the Sui Garden Recipes.” Shidan literally means “eating documents.” Dan can also mean “single” or “simple,” and I strongly suspect it is a pun, since Yuan loved simple food. Sui means “to follow, to be in accord.” Jerry Schmidt, an expert on Yuan Mei, translates it “Harmony Garden” (Schmidt 2015). Exactly what Yuan had in mind when he gave that name to his garden is somewhat unclear, but one can be sure he had all the meanings of the character in his thoughts somewhere. He apparently worked on this food book till he died, with drafts circulating for many years (Waley 1956:195).


Part 1 Introductory Basic Knowledge

Part 2 What Not to Do

Part 3 Seafood

Part 4 River Fish

Part 5 Ritual Livestock- Pigs

Part 6 Livestock-Cattle, Sheep and Deer

Part 7 Birds

Part 8 Aquatic Animals with Scales

Part 9 Aquatic animals without scales

Part 10 A Variety of Vegetable Dishes

Part 11 Side dishes

Part 12 Snacks

Part 13 Rice

Part 14 Tea and Drinks

Lire l’intégralité de la traduction

Texte original en chinois en accès libre sur le site Du shu zhan lu wang 讀書展露網 (consulté le 24 août 2015)

Autres traductions

(Informations aimablement communiquées par Françoise Sabban)

En français :

  • Panking. Livre de cuisine d’un gourmet poète (Le Brillat-Savarin de la Chine).  Pékin, “Politique de Pékin”, 1924, 70 p. [Traduction partielle]
En allemand :
  • Eberhard, Wolfram. “Die Chinesiche Küche. Die Kochkunst des Herrn von Sui-Yüan”. Ubertragen und Eingeleitet von Wolfram Eberhard. Sinica, 1940, Band 15, pp. 190-228. [Traduction partielle]
En anglais :
  • Translating the Suiyuan Shidan: 18th century Chinese recipes translated from Yuan Mei’s Qing Dynasty manual on gastronomy. Projet en cours. URL : https://wayoftheeating.wordpress.com/about/ (Consulté le 7 septembre 2015)
En japonais :

Lire aussi

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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1 réponse

  1. Sean Chen dit :

    Après m’être attelé à la tâche pendant ces 4 dernières années, la traduction complète du Suiyuan Shidan est enfin disponible en anglais. Cette traduction accompagnée d’annotation a reçu les éloges de plusieurs linguistes et chercheurs en études chinoises.
    Vous pouvez maintenant l’aquérir à: https://www.berkshirepublishing.com/product/yuan-meis-manual-gastronomy

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