The Seduction of the Palate presents the traditions of the Chinese table through a hundred objects mainly from the collections of the National Museum of China, and complemented by a selection of works from the musée des Arts asiatiques Guimet in Paris.
A civilising process under way for some seven thousand years, cooking and eating in China is not limited to a simple chronicle of daily behaviour supported by a set of objects; in addition to the mirror of time there appears an impressive chain of discoveries, implications, investigations... To appreciate this it is sufficient to evoke, for example, tableware throughout the ages: Neolithic pottery tableware soon metamorphosed into bronze during the first three royal dynasties (2nd and 1st millennia B.C.), converted into lacquerware (from the 3rd century B.C. ), then into gold and silver tableware on the tables of the palaces of the Tang (618-907), before the definitive triumph of delicate porcelain under the Songs (960-1278).
The exhibition is divided into two main phases: an initial sequence that solidly anchors the phenomenon in its historical context while describing the main stages of its chronological development through different types of tableware, various inventions (including those of pasta and the introduction of tea), the many foodstuffs and preparations etc., followed by a second movement employing a different approach to Chinese cuisine, examining its geographical distribution.
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