Traditional Chinese Culture: Zhang Caigeng

Shi Ran, Ed.

PureInsight | October 10, 2005

[] During the reign of Emperor Taizong of the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 A.D.), Zhang Mi (張泌) was appointed as historian of the imperial library. Many people frequently ate at his home.

One day, the emperor asked Zhang Mi, "Why are so many people eating at your house every day?" Zhang Mi replied, "Most of my relatives come from farming villages. They are destitute and are starving. I have money left over from my salary so I can afford to provide them with food. But we only eat ordinary vegetable dishes."

Afterwards, the emperor ordered a sudden inspection at his house during the mealtime and had his food brought back to the imperial palace. The emperor looked at the confiscated dishes to find that they were indeed ordinary vegetable dishes and coarse brown rice as Zhang Mi had described. The emperor admired him very much for his simple life style, so he gave Zhang Mi a nickname: Zhang Caigeng (張菜羹). Caigeng means vegetable dishes in Chinese.

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