Stories From Ancient China: Food Is to Relieve Hunger

When you are hungry and your stomach needs to be filled, it does not matter how dry the rice might be.  (Image:  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
When you are hungry and your stomach needs to be filled, it does not matter how dry the rice might be. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

As the old saying goes: “When hunger strikes, anything will do to fill the stomach.” The following gives credence to this statement, to wit.

Liu Nanyuan was minister for public works during the Jiajing Era (1522-1566) at the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). He returned to his hometown following retirement. A provincial official who had jurisdiction over this retired minister’s hometown was picky and choosy when it came to food.  Minor officials in the area felt intimidated when they expected one of this man’s visits. Retired Liu Nanyuan told them: “He was once my pupil. I will offer him my counsel.”

The nun told him that poisonous snakes were repelled by wine. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

But then a delicacy was served, accompanied by an excellent wine. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Liu visited this choosy provincial official at his home and commented:

Protocol prevented the provincial official from declining the invitation, because Liu had, after all, been his teacher.

Visiting Liu in his home, noon had come and gone, and still no food. The official was by now quite hungry. When a dish finally arrived, he beheld only rice and a few pieces of bean curd. Liu and his guest each ate three bowls of rice, and then the official was really full, to the point that he could eat no more. But then a delicacy was served, accompanied by an excellent wine. Shortly, the whole table was covered with delectable food.

Shortly the whole table was covered with delectable food. (Image: bryan via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Shortly, the whole table was covered with delectable food.
(Image: bryan via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

But alas, the official was too satiated to eat anything else. Liu Nanyuan insisted the guest eat more, but the official declined, saying: “I am really full. I cannot eat another bite.” Liu smiled and commented:

The provincial official took his former teacher’s advice and never again made unreasonable food demands.

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our weekly email

The Pest-Free Baoguo Temple