Essential Knowledge 15: Cleanliness (潔淨須知)

切蔥之刀,不可以切筍;搗椒之臼,不可以搗粉。聞菜有抹布氣者,由其布之不潔也;聞菜有砧板氣者,由其板之不淨也。「工欲善其事,必先利其 器。」良廚先多磨刀,多換布,多刮板,多洗手,然後治菜。至於口吸之煙灰,頭上之汗汁,灶上之蠅蟻,鍋上之煙煤,一玷入菜中,雖絕好烹庖,如西子蒙不潔,人皆掩鼻而過之矣。

List of Essential Knowledge::Cleanliness
Just as a knife used to cut green onions cannot be used to cut bamboo shoots, a mortar used to pound peppercorns cannot be used to pound flour. A dish that has the smell of a cooking towel means that the towel used was not clean, just as a dish that smells of a chopping board means that the board used was not clean. It is said: “To do good work, one needs good tools”. [1] As such, cooks must be deligent in sharpening their knives, changing their cooking towels, scraping their chopping boards, and washing their hands before preparing food. Even a well done dish would be inedible if the ashes from tobacco, a cook’s dripping sweat, flies and ants crawling on the stove, or the soot on the wok are mixed into a dish. Note, even if was Xishi [2] covered in filth, people would still cover their nose and avoid her. [3]

Random notes:

[1]: From Analects of Confucius (論語::魏靈公)
[2]: Xishi (西施), the fabled Chinese beauty
[3]: The phrase was attributed to Mencius (孟子)


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