Chirac dines on La Cuisine Chinoise, savours favourite dishes of
When the leader of a gourmet nation visits a country
whose cuisine is a global favourite, it is no surprise that fine dining is on
Last night, French President Jacques Chirac showed off his chopsticks skills
when he tucked into the capital's signature dish Peking roast duck, washed down
by a French burgundy.
The French leader also savoured wan dou huang (sweet pea pudding) and yun dou
juan (mashed kidney bean rolls) both traditional Beijing snacks which Qing
Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors loved.
The dining venue was Tiandi (Heaven and Earth) restaurant, which is popular
among diplomats for its authentic cooking style.
Red sandalwood furniture, classical Chinese paintings and imperial-style
lamps add traditional flavour.
The view from Chirac's dinner table was fit for a king. The second-floor
balcony overlooks Huang Shi Cheng to the north, where Ming (1368-1644) and Qing
dynasty emperors stored their royal archives. Opposite the street of Nanchizi,
where Tiandi is located, is Tai Miao, the Royal Ancestral Temple.
Four Chinese chefs worked together to present six cold dishes, a soup, six
hot dishes, three desserts and a fruit platter, representing cuisines from
Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Jiangsu.
"We designed the dishes to be tempting in terms of colour, fragrance, taste
and shape; and wanted the president to try some original and traditional Chinese
foods," revealed Yu Li, executive chef.
Yu, who has travelled to France, said: "the French like multiple tastes. They
appreciate tasty and, sometimes, rich foods."
Among the dishes served yesterday were Peking roast duck, quick-fried king
prawn, hot and sour squid's roe soup with coriander and seasonal stir-fried
hairy crab roe with French toast.
Unlike many other foreigners visiting China, who prefer their dishes served
on separate plates, the French used the one plate for a dish, eating just like
Before the president dined at 7:50 pm, he joined his fellow countrymen and
women at the Peninsula Hotel for a reception. More than 30 chefs worked for 72
hours to prepare 12,000 appetizers for the 1,500 guests.
Guests paid 1,500 yuan (US$187.5) for the privilege and all hotel staff were
sent to the in-house Learning and Development Centre for a refresher course for
It is the fourth time Chirac has stayed at The Peninsula Beijing, the
five-star hotel also favoured by former US President George Bush, father of the
current American leader.
The hotel's presidential suite which has a private elevator was opened in
2004 and ranked among world's best by Architectural Digest magazine. President
Chirac was the first guest after it opened.