This article discusses the origins and mythology of China’s Kitchen God, which include the evolution of this deity over the centuries from Fire God in prehistoric times to his present role as the protector of the home. Also discussed are the many legends that surround this beloved being, as well as historical and current sources for who the Kitchen God might once have been, how he changed over the years, and how he is worshipped in modern times. Mainly ancient Chinese resources are cited in the original, with English translations in the copious endnotes. Illustrations by the author, Carolyn Phillips.
The Kitchen God of Chinese Lore
Carolyn Phillips is a professional food writer and illustrator whose comprehensive cookbook on the cuisines of China will be published by McSweeney’s in Fall 2014. Her “Dim Sum Field Guide” was featured at the 2013 MAD Symposium in Copenhagen and on Buzzfeed after being published in Lucky Peach. Carolyn was a finalist in this year’s IACP Legacy of Julia Child award for her story, “Julia Child’s Spy Years: Of Opium, Sharks and an Undying Love for Chinese Food.” She is a self-described Chinese food wonk whose writings can also be found in such diverse places as Swallow, Pork Memoirs, and Zester Daily, as well as on her blog, MadameHuang.com.
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Carolyn Phillips; The Kitchen God of Chinese Lore. Gastronomica 1 November 2013; 13 (4): 22–31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2013.13.4.22
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