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Yang Gueifei and Christmas pudding

Yang Gueifei was a Chinese beauty from the Tang dynasty--the poet Bai Juyi (or Bo Juyi) wrote about her. The emperor's love for her contributed to the whole downfall of the Tang. (Way to go, Emperor Xuanzong!) Anyway, when I read translations of the poem, I was struck by the fact that one of her beauty points is that her skin is as white and beautiful as--can you guess?


Which is pretty funny to today's sensibilities. You will not win the love of your life by telling her that her complexion is as gorgeous as lard.

Except, just now, I'm making a Christmas mid-January pudding (it will be ready in mid-January--it has to age and soak up brandy), and one of the many interesting ingredients (this is my mother-in-law's recipe, and I love making it because it brings together so many things... dried fruit, orange peel, potatoes, carrots, etc.) is suet.* And, as I was crumbling up the suet, which is much nicer than lard, I think, because it's so dry, I was struck by how pretty it is--very white and with a sheen to it.

So maybe Yang Gueifei's complexion was like suet.

*There are vegetarian Christmas pudding recipes, but I like using my mother-inlaw's recipe.

Here's a picture of Yang Gueifei, painted by an 18th-century Japanese painter (the Japanese loved Bai Juyi's poem and the whole story. In Japan she was called Yôkihi. Oh, and I used pinyin romanization for the Chinese, but you often see her name in the old Wade-Giles romanization system, which writes it Yang Kwei-fei.)

And here's a picture of a Christmas pudding. Mine will look like this--in mid January.

And, what the heck, here is a picture of some lard...

The google suet pics are either nasty or related to bird feeders, so here is one I took of the chopped up suet:


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2006 04:33 pm (UTC)
suet and lard....heard of them but never seen 'em before...well, we do say, in our language, Tamizh, " veNNai mathiri irukkaa"...that is, she is fair and smooth as butter...so....it's common across eastern cultures I guess....but your suet looks grayish...in what form do you buy it?
Dec. 19th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
I think it's grayish because I had to take the picture without a flash, because the flash reflects off the container of the food processer (I was chopping it).

Actually, I bought it still on the bone! So, a bone, and the suet--the fat around the edges of the meat, I guess.

Then I took it off the bone and crumbled it somewhat with my fingers and put it in the food processer, and chopped it some more (but it would have been better to do it by hand, as it becomes soft as the blade whirls around.)
Dec. 19th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
LOL! Not sure about that flute Yang Gueifei's playing -- is that a counterweight on the other end? Looking for images of her online (日本語で) I kept finding pics of her about to get into the bath that Xuanzong built for her (somehow I think this statue is a post-capitalist touch).

But for suet, I recall most houses in my youth having a packet of Atora (see funny article in Saucy online mag.) in the kitchen cupboard -- that was before there were "Original" and "Light" versions (the latter would allow that article writer's granny to give him suet AND keep him vegetarian, woo hoo!).
Dec. 19th, 2006 11:15 pm (UTC)
Ooh, Ted Nugent drank suet-flavored milk, mmm! (gag!) That Atora article is funny!

Dec. 19th, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC)
my only experience with suet is re: birdfeeders...the safer alternative to peanut butter and bird seed...i was never was the task of locating the suet, and i always tried to avoid it because it sounded so icky and looked darker...but maybe it's low grade suet that is recommended for bird feeders?
Dec. 19th, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)
Re: suet
Maybe it's the connected-to-the bone-ness that is gross. And sometimes there can be membranes and bits of the meat... which is a bit gross.

It's dry though--like the difference between snakes and worms. I'd rather pick up a snake than a worm.

Dec. 19th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC)
P.S. safer alternative?
Why is suet a safer alternative to peanut butter and seeds? (Just curious...)
Dec. 19th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
Re: P.S. safer alternative?
apparently peanut butter is too sticky? it may be some human-centric notion -- you know an urban-legend type thing? but the woman who told me it was bad was a scientist who did resesarch on earthworms(?) well, somehow this gave her more credibility in my opinion...you know anyone who knows her earthworms has to know her birds....
Dec. 19th, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
Dec. 19th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
sorry i can't finish a thought in 1 "thought" but i'd be happy to have skin as smooth as suet but even happier to have a steady stream of all the suet-filled desserts...mincemeat, christmas pudding, etc.
Dec. 20th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
LOL "Oh honey, you're as pretty as lard!" *smack* :p

That's a gorgeous piece of art.
Dec. 20th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
Hehehehe, I'm not sure I would want to be compared to lard or suet but I wouldn't mind having a piece of the mid-winter's pudding.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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