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川菜的危机:传统的滋味哪儿去了

更新时间:2016-6-16 11:06:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Sichuan Cuisine, Imperiled by Success
川菜的危机:传统的滋味哪儿去了

CHENGDU, China — The tang of the famed cooking of Sichuan wafts through streets crowded with restaurants. Hot pots of chile and oil simmer like restless volcanoes. Chicken, rabbit and frog bathe in stews tingling with red and green peppercorns. Favorites like Pock-Marked Grandma Tofu abound.

中国成都——街头餐馆林立,大名鼎鼎的川菜浓香四溢。火锅里的辣椒和油如同汹涌的火山。鸡、兔、蛙肉炖锅里放着红红绿绿的花椒,分外刺激。麻婆豆腐之类受欢迎的菜肴随处可见。

But along with all the pungent aromas, a whiff of panic is in the air here in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China.

但在四川省会成都,空气中除了刺激味觉的香味外,还有一丝恐慌。

“Sichuanese cuisine really faces a crisis,” said Wang Kaifa, a 71-year-old chef who has been leading a campaign against what he sees as the creeping debasement of the region’s celebrated cooking.

“川菜确实面临着一个危机,”71岁的厨师王开发说。他认为这个地区的著名菜系的水准正在不知不觉地下降,因而发起了一场运动来扭转这一趋势。

“The scene feels like it’s booming, but this is a chaotic boom that has had a lot of negatives,” he said, drawing out his vowels and emphasizing high notes in the region’s lilting accent. “Finally, they could become a sickness that brings down Sichuanese cuisine.”

“表面上感觉川菜是在繁荣发展,但是背后其实是个乱象,有很多的问题,”他说。“这些问题最终可以成为一个顽疾,导致川菜的没落。”他说着这个地区的方言,元音拖长,高音鲜明,抑扬顿挫。

Such gloom seems surprising. Chengdu has a bustling food scene with many thousands of restaurants, from chic newer ones to hole-in-the-wall places called “fly diners.” Tourists go there just for the food.

这种悲观似乎出人意料。成都餐饮业一派欣欣向荣的景象。从近年刚开起来的新潮餐厅,到破破烂烂的“苍蝇馆子”,这里有着几千家餐馆。游客就是冲着美食而来。

Sichuanese cooking has been conquering the world. It has become China’s favorite out-of-home dining, sold in countless restaurants that often advertise its trademark chile heat. It has made major inroads in New York, London and other intensely competitive dining cities abroad.

川菜正横扫全球。它是中国最受欢迎的外出就餐选择。川菜餐厅不计其数,常常以标志性的热辣风格为卖点。在国外,川菜在纽约、伦敦和其他餐饮行业竞争激烈的城市也大有斩获。

But many cooks and food enthusiasts in Chengdu worry that, like a once-humble hometown band dazzled by sudden stardom, their tradition risks betraying its roots and selling out for easy but fleeting hits.

但成都的很多厨师和美食爱好者担心,就像一个曾经默默无闻的本地乐队被突如其来的明星光环冲昏了头脑一样,他们的传统可能会背叛自己的根源,为了唾手可得却又不会长久的名利而出卖自己。

Rapid growth, especially in the last decade, has debased much restaurant cooking, drowning the tastes and textures of dishes like fish-fragrant eggplant in gobs of acrid chile, oil and monosodium glutamate. Menus are often narrowed to dauntingly spicy dishes, like boiled duck-blood curd and tripe in chile broth, ignoring the great variety and nuance of the cuisine.

快速的增长拉低了很多餐厅的烹饪水平,过去几十年尤其如此,用大量辣椒、油和味精淹没鱼香茄子等菜肴的味道和口感。菜单上往往只剩下辣得吓人的菜,如毛血旺,忽视了川菜的多样与微妙。

“Our taste buds have been battered into decline so that we demand it to be spicier and spicier,” said Shi Guanghua, a gravel-voiced food writer and former restaurateur in Chengdu. “Sichuanese cuisine has become shallow and flattened.”

“我们的味蕾现在已经被伤的退化了,结果就是我们越吃越辣,”声音沙哑、曾在成都开过餐厅的美食撰稿人石光华说。“川菜现在变的没了底蕴,很单调。”

In Chengdu, people dissect their meals with the reverence that other cities devote to sports teams. Everyone in the food business here offers solutions to the problem. Lively debate has broken out, especially about finding the balance between preserving tradition and embracing new ways and new customers.

在成都,人们会带着其他城市的人对球队的那种热情,来评析自己的菜肴。对于这个问题,成都餐饮业的每一个从业人员都提出了解决办法。还爆发了激烈的争论,尤其是如何在保留传统与接受新方法、新顾客之间找到平衡。

And in this country where almost every problem prompts a state plan, the province’s government last year upgraded its guidelines for standard Sichuanese dishes. The guidelines advise, for instance, that “strange-flavored chicken strips,” a cold dish that includes dark vinegar, should use the meat of a one-year-old rooster.

在这个几乎每一个问题都会促使官方给出一个方案的国家,政府去年更新了川菜的标准。比如,标准建议,用陈醋制作的凉菜怪味鸡丝应选用饲龄为一年左右的公鸡肉。

In April, the government announced a plan to award Sichuanese restaurants, at home and abroad, Michelinlike ratings — gold, silver and bronze pandas — to encourage standard-bearers for good cooking.

政府在4月宣布,计划向国内外的川菜名馆颁发金、银、铜熊猫认证牌——类似于米其林评级——以鼓励优秀川菜的代表。

“Shocks from commercialization and the simplification of tastes have created a crisis,” said Mr. Shi, who is on a supervisory panel for the restaurant-rating plan. “Sichuanese cuisine can’t survive without its traditions, but how to preserve them and reinvigorate them at the same time? That’s the focus of discussion.”

“商业化和味道简化所带来的震动已经造成了这样一个危机,”在上述餐厅评审项目的监督委员会任职的石光华说。“川菜抛弃传统是不能生存的。但是怎么在保持传统的同时还要重新让它焕发活力呢?这是讨论这个问题的重点。”

To outsiders, this alarm may seem over the top. But the angst over Sichuan cooking distills wider anxieties about the place of tradition, as China becomes increasingly unmoored from its past.

在局外人看来,这种警惕可能有些过头了。但随着中国越来越多地摈弃传统,对川菜的担忧反映了对传统的地位的担忧。

Some defenders of old-school cooking look to President Xi Jinping of China, known for dining out on cheap steamed buns, who has called for restoring homegrown traditions in politics. They hope to see the same in kitchens.

一些捍卫老派烹饪技艺的人寄希望于中国国家主席习近平。习近平外出就餐时吃家常的包子一事广为流传,在政治上他也呼吁恢复本国的传统。他们希望在餐饮业看到同样的情形。

“Too many of the old ways have gone by the wayside, but the trend now under Xi Jinping has been to restore Chinese traditions,” said the chef Chen Baiming. “Sichuanese food is a part of Chinese culture, and we need to protect it.”

“很多以前的烹饪方法都失传了。不过在习总书记的领导下,现在的趋势是复兴中国的传统,”厨师陈百明说。“川菜是中国文化的一部分,我们当然要保护它。”

Early this year, dozens of retired chefs formed the Sichuan Old Chef Traditional Artistry Society to restore time-honored ways they say are under assault. Its 160 members, most in their 60s and 70s, meet weekly in a clubhouse above a restaurant to swap recipes, promote traditional skills and play mah-jongg, even more of an obsession here than in much of the rest of China.

今年年初,几十名已经退休的厨师成立了川菜老师傅传统技艺研习会,为的是恢复他们认为受到了破坏的悠久传统。研习会的160名会员中,大部分是六七十岁的老人。他们每周在一间餐厅楼上的会所见面,交流菜谱,推广传统技艺和打麻将。这里的人比中国其他很多地方更迷恋麻将。

They gripe about young cooks who use lashings of new ingredients, like mayonnaise, and recall neglected classics, like sliced pig kidneys fried in fermented bean paste. Mr. Wang said he was inspired to start the society after watching in dismay while a 30-year-old chef from a five-star hotel added celtuce, also called asparagus lettuce, to kung pao chicken.

他们会抱怨大量使用蛋黄酱等新食材的年轻厨师,并怀念被忽视的经典菜肴,如酱爆腰花。王开发说,他是在诧异地看到一名30岁的厨师在做宫保鸡丁时加入了莴笋后,才想到要成立研习会的。那名年轻的厨师来自一家五星级酒店。

“I was furious,” he said with a grimace. The dish should be an uncluttered mix of chicken, peanuts, stubby dried red chiles and spices, he said. “Young chefs these days just don’t understand what tradition is.”

“我就生气了,”他厌恶地说。这道菜应该只用鸡肉 、花生、干辣椒段和香料,他说。“年轻的厨师们现在不知道传统究竟是什么样”。

Of course no cuisine stands still. Classic French food evolves, as does every other cuisine. In Sichuan, the question is what elements to preserve and how to change without betraying the culinary heritage.

当然,没有菜式是静止的。经典的法国菜在逐步发展,其他所有菜式也都一样。在四川,问题在于应该保留什么元素,以及如何在不违背烹饪传统的条件下做出变化。

A camp of chefs here hopes to remake Sichuanese cooking for urbane middle-class tastes, building on the core of traditional ingredients and techniques. Some have opened airy modern restaurants that serve recipes with contemporary twists and presentation.

这里的一部分厨师希望以食材和技巧的传统核心为基础,针对讲究的中产阶级的口味改造川菜。一些人开办了窗明几净的现代餐厅,供应的菜式经过了现代的改良,外观也颇具现代气息。

“You do have to maintain tradition, but it’s not a display in a museum,” said Yang Wen, a chef whose restaurant, Lotus Shadow, features refined dishes, like braised shrimp infused with jasmine tea, that are a world away from the homespun fare favored by old-school revivalists. “There’s no survival without innovation.”

“传统肯定是要保存的。但是传统也不能像保存在博物馆里那样,”厨师杨文说。她所在的莲影餐厅做的是改良菜,如茉莉花茶虾,和复古派青睐的那种家常菜有着天壤之别。“没有创新是没法生存的。”

Ms. Yang, who is also a gastronomy teacher, plans to open a cooking school and research institute in Chengdu, called the Chinese Food Academy and Information Center, to help restore and reinvent local cooking. A mundane dish like twice-cooked pork, a classic Sichuan dish made from boiled pork belly, could be remade for new tastes, she said.

同时还是一名烹饪老师的杨文计划在成都开办一个集烹饪学校和研究所为一体的机构,叫中华美食创意及信息发布中心,帮助恢复和改造当地的烹饪技巧。她说,像回锅肉这种常见的菜可以进行改良,做成新口味。用煮过的五花肉做的回锅肉是一道经典川菜。

“It’s preserving the essence of tradition while meeting modern expectations,” said Ms. Yang, a rare woman among the legions of male cooks here. “Sichuanese food has never stood still.”

“这既保存了传统的精髓,又达到了现代人对味道的预期,”杨文说。这里的厨师大军主要由男性组成,像她这样的女性很少见。“川菜从来也不是静止不变的。”

Ms. Yang has a point. Sichuanese cooking is classified as one of the eight great cuisines of China. But its roots are relatively recent. Over several centuries of war, trade and migration, outsiders brought in chiles, fermented bean paste, sugar and other spices, and their own cooking traditions.

杨文的话不无道理。川菜被归为中国八大菜系之一。但它的历史相对较短。在几个世纪的战争、贸易和人口迁徙过程中,外乡人带来了辣椒、豆瓣酱、糖和其他香料,以及他们自己的烹饪传统。

These influences melded only several generations ago to create an unusually aromatic and versatile toolbox of flavors. Sichuan’s historic openness to other influences should be seen as a virtue, say some food lovers here.

这些因素在几个世代前才融合到一起,创造了香味异常浓烈,并且非常多元的川菜风味。这里的一些美食爱好者说,四川历史上对其他影响持开明的态度,这应该被当成一种美德。

“The truest Sichuanese food has only about a century or so of history behind it,” said Wang Shiwu, a food critic at Sichuan Gastronomy, a monthly magazine. “The attractiveness of Sichuanese food is that it’s a big melting pot. Whatever is attractive in your cuisine, I can absorb and adapt it.”

“真正的川菜只有一百多年的历史,”月刊《四川烹饪》的美食评论家王诗武说。“川菜的魅力在于它就像个大熔炉。别的菜系里面吸引人的好的东西,我都能吸收转化以后为我所用。”

Nowadays, a Sichuanese cook uses the zesty green or red local pepper, scallions, earthy fermented broad bean and chile paste, black fermented soy beans, dried tangerine peel and dozens of types of chiles (big and small, red and green, fiery and mild) prepared in several ways: fresh, dried and pickled.

如今,一名川菜厨师使用的香料包括鲜绿色或红色的本地花椒、青葱、带着泥土味的豆瓣酱和辣椒酱、黑色的豆豉、陈皮,还有几十种辣椒(有小有大,有红有绿,辣度不一),以不同方式备好:新鲜的、干的和腌制的。

These and other condiments can be combined to create dozens of flavors, many of which defy quick description in English. “Each dish its own, 100 flavors in 100 dishes,” goes the saying repeated by the chefs who fear that those tastes will vanish.

这些香料和其他调味品可以混合出几十种口味,其中有不少难以很快用英文描述出来。担心这些味道将来会消失的厨师们总是提起那句老话,“一菜一格,百菜百味。”

“Sichuan, Chengdu in particular, has an incredibly high concentration of restaurants and a fiercely competitive restaurant industry, so people are always looking for the next new thing,” said Fuchsia Dunlop, the English food writer and consultant who spent many years in Sichuan. “But it’s certainly true that since the late ’90s, the pace of change has really accelerated.”

“四川餐馆密度极高,餐饮业竞争非常激烈,尤其是在成都,所以人们总是在寻找下一个新东西,”英国美食作家、顾问扶霞·邓洛普(Fuchsia Dunlop)说。她在四川居住过多年。“不过有一点是肯定的,自90年代末以来,改变的步伐的确加快了。”

From that time, Sichuanese food took off in national popularity, first inspiring a love for a spicy hot pot, and then bringing a burst of chain restaurants that consolidated the cuisine as the national favorite for dining out. Lately, the craze has been for freshwater lobster in chile hot pots.

自那时起,川菜在全国流行开来,首先是激发了人们对麻辣火锅的热爱,接着催生了大批连锁餐厅。这些餐厅巩固了川菜的地位,使之成为全国各地的人们外出聚餐时的首选。最近风靡的是香辣小龙虾。

But in Chengdu, Xiong A’bing, a chef who runs a chain of restaurants called Rustic Impressions, specializing in robustly traditional dishes, said people would tire of the race toward spicy novelty.

不过在成都,经营连锁餐馆“田园印象”的主厨熊阿兵表示,人们慢慢会对追新求异感到厌倦。这家餐厅专做十分传统的川菜。

“We’ve also felt the many changes in China since 2012,” he said, while making bowls of boiled beef strips under heaps of surprisingly fragrant ground chile. “Now many people, especially those born after the 1970s, are turning back to eat traditional Sichuanese food. They’re returning to their roots.”

“大概2012年开始我们就感到了国内的一些变化,”他说。熊阿兵正在制作一碗碗水煮牛肉,上面覆盖着厚厚的一堆香味格外浓郁的辣椒碎。“现在很多人,特别是70年代以后出生的,都在回归,改吃传统川菜。很多人都在回归自己的根。”

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