A Wonderful Feast for your Taste Buds: Dongguan's Gau daai gwai
2022-06-15 18:27     Source : Dongguan Today


In ancient China, "Gui"(簋) was a kind of round-mouthed food vessel with two or four loop handles. The Cantonese called it "Gwai"(簋), which used to hold five to six pounds of rice. "Gau" is the Cantonese pronunciation of nine, and the word Gau daai(九大) means not only a lot but also the most sumptuous and grand. Gau daai gwai(九大簋), also called main dishes, represents a high-specification banquet with extremely generous food.

Dongguan's Nanshe Village has maintained Gau daai gwai to this day. Gau daai gwai contained a strong drinking etiquette culture and was selected as Guangdong's eighth batch of intangible cultural heritage representative projects. Let's visit Xie Renliang, the inheritor of Nanshe's Gau daai gwai and appreciate the great charm of Gau daai gwai.

Nanshe's Gau daai gwai became popular in the late Southern Song Dynasty when the Xie family moved in. After more than 700 years of development, it has now become a banquet custom of the local people. According to Xie Mingqin, Xie Chengyun and other older people in the village, the food of Gau daai gwai is prepared and served in a chicken bowl (鸡公钵).

Uncle Liang told the reporter, "I started learning the culinary skills of Nanshe's Gau daai gwai with Master Wei Zhiliang when I was about 35 years old and fully mastered the skills five years later. I have been insisting on cooking Nanshe's Gau daai gwai, hoping more people can taste this traditional cuisine and feel the glamour of ritual culture."

Since the reform and opening up, with the improvement of life, the dishes of Nanshe's Gau daai gwai have become increasingly sumptuous. However, the food is still cooked traditionally with old pots and firewood, showing the thick details of Nanshe Village and the strong sense of humanity and culture.

"Gau daai gwai has nine dishes, each with a unique name and auspicious meaning." Uncle Liang said. There are no fixed dishes, and it all depends on the type of banquet and the season, but the nine dishes should have two each of fish, meat and poultry, accompanied by various seasonal vegetables, and each dish is made with the best ingredients. In each chicken bowl, the vegetarian dishes are served under meat dishes.

Editor: Zheng Sihui