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Oct 26, 2006 05:34 AM

"Peasant" Food

About three years ago, there was a thread with this same title. I want to rekindle discussion of it.

I consider it an extremely interesting sub-genere of the culinary world. This is because of the inguenity that was born out of avaliablity of little or poor resources.

What I think is great is when the so called 'peasant' food becomes adopted by the nobility. As was the case when Louis XIV was traveling through Bretagne and came across crepes. Before you know it - guess whats on tonights menu at the palace of Versaille?!

Please contribute Peasant food of the world!

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  1. "Wuo wuo tou"

    It's a big, yellow Chinese bao made of corn flour. The story goes that as the last Ching Dynasty queen (Tsi Xi) was fleeing the capital in the fall of the empire, she and her ensemble came across peasant Chinese farmers. Without anything else to eat, she had what the poor ate - wuo wuo tou. She loved it. It's cheap to make and rough to the taste. There is a hole on the bottom, which is usually filled with pickled vegetables.

    I've had it once at Ji Rong restaurant in SGV, CA, but the place has since closed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chica

      I believe Ive seen this dish in the lthforums. It is exactly the thing that lead me to a posting a while back concerning the role of corn (& other columbian exchange introductions) in asian cuisines?

      Have you ever made it chica?
      How was it served? WHat pickled veggies?
      Do you know what region of CHina it orignats from?
      Thanks a million for solving this mystery for me.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        No, I've never made it - I wouldn't know how.

        It's served plain and simple - the bao with pickled vegetables. The vegetables are called "za tsai." I don't know how to make this either, but it's a very popular, cheap dish Chinese restos serve.

        The empress was in Beijing, the northern part of China. Corn, too, was more likely to grow in the north.

        The empress was actually fleeing eight invading make a long story short, she eventually returned to her palace, woke up one day, remembered the bao, and declared she wanted it. The servants went out and got it for her, but when she ate it, this time, she said it was tasteless and bad.

        Today, the Chinese use this wuo wuo tou story to show the lesson that when we're poor and in need, anything tastes good. Yet when we're rich and resourceful, we get picky. But we're all the same - it's only the circumstances that have changed. In other words, we take our luxurious lives for granted and not know what we have until we lose it.

      2. re: chica

        My Brother-in-law was "sent down" to Xunke, in remotest Heilongjiang Province during the Cultural Revolution and for many months wouwoutou was the only food available. Needless to say, he hates the sight of it. Zhou En-Lai, on the other hand, claimed to love it (possibly a bit of reverse snobbery at play there).

      3. I think that so called peasant food is the best. It's the food of love food.


        1. My father grew up poor in Hungary, and "Hungarian Garlic Bread" was something that he would have as dinner.

          Piece of rye bread, pan-fry in hot oil until crisp/brown.
          Take a whole garlic clove, rub vigorously on the bread. Due to the bread texture, it's almost like a fine grater.
          Sprinkle liberally with salt.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JugglerDave

            Gah! Same here! My parents were Hungarian and they did the exact same thing. I've forgotten entirely about it - it was a staple of our Sunday evening dinners which tended to be of the hunt-and-gather variety. Thanks for the memory.

            1. re: JugglerDave

              Dave, I tried this and it's *very* good. I used a great rye bread with caraway seeds, and a soybean extra virgin olive oil mix from Argentina and went at it. It's amazing how that piece of fried bread acts like a microplane zester. The garlic just completely coats the bread. Delicious. I forgot to add the salt at the end though. IMO still good! I'm gonna love introducing it as my "Hungarian Specialty". LOL. Thanks.

            2. Gruel. Ale. Scraps of meat. Root vegetables. Herbs added to balance unbalanced humours.