During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi went to Changshanyu of Luanping (located in Hebei today) with his servant. On their way back, they got lost. It was getting dark and Emperor Kangxi was hungry. He rode ahead of his servant and soon came to a farmhouse. He reined his horse, went into the house, and saw an old man preparing to have dinner with his sons.
The table was set with a plate of yellow pancakes made from corn, a bowl of corn porridge, a bowl of stewed hare with mushrooms, a bowl of stewed wild mushrooms, and a bowl of salad. Emperor Kangxi asked:
“I am a passer-by. It is getting late and I’m hungry. Would it be all right if I joined you for dinner? I will pay for the food.”
The family was very hospitable; they invited the emperor in for dinner and treated him as a guest. After the dinner, Emperor Kangxi commented:
“The food was delicious. There must be a very competent lady who can cook such delicious food.”
The old man then replied with a smile:
“There is no lady in our family. I have three sons. My eldest son hunts in the mountain, my second son chops the wood, and my youngest son cooks for the family.”
Emperor Kangxi’s servant passed by and saw the emperor’s horse. The servant thus went into the house to greet the emperor. The family then knew that their guest was actually the emperor of the Qing Dynasty and they quickly kneeled down. Emperor Kangxi said:
“I’m very happy to see your family living in such harmony.”
Before riding back, he ordered his servant to pay the farmer a huge sum of money. Several days later, Emperor Kangxi recalled the food that he had eaten at the farmhouse. He later sent one of his servants to look for the old man’s third son to cook him some corn porridge. After that, corn porridge became one of the recipes in the Imperial Kitchen.
Translated by Ma Ying