Essential Knowledge 10: Transformations (變換須知)

須知單::變換須知
一物有一物之味,不可混而同之。猶如聖人設教,因才樂育,不拘一律。所謂君子成人之美也。今見俗廚,動以雞、鴨、豬、鵝,一湯同滾,遂令千手雷同,味同嚼蠟。吾恐雞、豬、鵝、鴨有靈,必到枉死城中告狀矣。善治菜者,須多設鍋、灶、盂、缽之類,使一物各獻一性,一碗各成一味。嗜者舌本應接不暇,自覺心花頓開。

List of Essential Knowledge::Transformations[1]
An ingredient has its own unique character, and cannot be mixed without confusing its flavour. As said by Confucius: “A student must be taught according to their aptitude and not in a haphazard manner”. Such is the way to elevate oneself to become a true gentlemen. These days we see flamboyant cooks, boiling chickens, ducks, pigs, and geese together in soup, producing dishes with tastes as indistinguishable and [2] flavourful as chewing on wax. I fear the souls of the chickens, pigs, geese, and ducks seeing such injustices done, will be pressing charges in the afterlife courts. A competant cook would prepare the right cooking vessels and utensils, such that each ingredient can offer its best and each dish can show off its flavour to the fullest. This way when connoisseurs taste the food, they will be inexplicably and thoroughly delighted by the flavours.

Random notes:

[1]: In general, this section was quite hard to translate and chock full of phases such as “因才樂育”, “不拘一律”, “遂令千手雷同”, “嗜者舌本應接不暇”, which for various reasons I found difficult to untangle. This is the best I can do now, but I’m not too happy with it and I will likely be revising this translation in the future. As well, I not such how to translate “變換” in context to what the section is about, “transformations” is what I’m going with for now, but I’m not sure it fits the content.

[2]: Literally “遂令千手雷同” translates to something like “commanding a thousand hand thunder-clapper”, which indicates that one does something monotonous, similar, and repetitious under orders of some sort. I initially translated this to the cook “blindly following trends in cuisine”, but it felt more correct to translate it to “indistinguishable tastes” in respect to talking about the bland waxy taste of the dish. I have no idea if this is right.

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3 thoughts on “Essential Knowledge 10: Transformations (變換須知)”

  1. I think the word “cacophonous” might capture both the thousand-handed thunder clapper and the concept of muddledness.

    I am excited about your project and cannot wait to read more.

    1. Thanks for the support! Hopefully real life does not completely overtake this project and I can post on a semi-regular basis.

      I actually really wanted to use “cacophonous”, though at the end I thought the meanings diverge a bit too much for 千手雷同 (thousand hands thundering/clapping the same) since the last character indicates a degree of order through similarity. However, at a second glance, perhaps the sentence could be “…producing dishes with a cacophony of indistinguishable tastes that is as flavoursome as chewing on wax.”

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