(TibetanReview.net, Dec02’23) – To prepare egg fried rice, which has long been a beloved dish in China and one of most recognizable icons of Chinese cuisine around the world, is to court political controversy, if not danger as well, when done in October-November, and especially in a cook show, all because of Mao Zedong’s eldest son, Mao Anying, who was killed in an American air strike during the Korean War on Nov 25, 1950. It led to one of the country’s most famous chefs being forced to apologize – for making a video on how to cook the dish, reported edition.cnn.com Nov 30.
“As a chef, I will never make egg fried rice again,” Wang Gang, a celebrity chef with more than 10 million online fans, was reported to have pledged in a video message on Nov 27.
Angry nationalists were stated to have accused Wang of using the video to mock the death of Mao Anying in a torrent of criticism posted on Chinese social media site Weibo on Nov 27.
While Wang’s Nov 27 video was solely about making egg fried rice, for some Chinese nationalists, any mention of the dish around the anniversary of Mao Anying’s death, or birthday on Oct 24, amounts to a deliberate act of insult and mockery, the report noted.
However, by attacking mentions of egg fried rice by famous chefs and other online influencers, the nationalist users had inadvertently promoted the very rumour their government was trying to quash, the report said.
Mao Anying, an officer in the People’s Liberation Army, disobeyed orders to take shelter during an air raid. Instead, the hungry young man fired up a stove to make egg fried rice, which sent smoke into the air and gave away his position to enemy jets.
While that version of events was mentioned in the memoir of Yang Di, a military officer who worked alongside the younger Mao at the commander’s headquarters, Chinese authorities have repeatedly refuted it as rumour.
Nov 25 is especially sensitive because it is celebrated as a “Chinese Thanksgiving” that saved the People’s Republic of China from turning into a hereditary dictatorship in the mode of North Korea, noted chinadigitaltimes.net Nov 27.
Due to egg fried rice’s popularity, unintentional “celebrations” of Chinese Thanksgiving are common. Yet this is somehow online celebrity chef Wang Gang’s third egg fried rice-related controversy, the report noted.
In 2018, People’s Daily shared a video of Wang making egg-fried rice on Oct 24, Mao Anying’s birthday. It led to social media users accusing the Party’s flagship paper of harboring “ulterior motives” for sharing the video.
In 2020, Wang shared a video of himself making Yangzhou-style fried rice (which is similar to egg fried rice) on Oct 24. It again led to an outburst of nationalist vitriol. Wang swiftly issued an apology in which he seemed rather bewildered by the situation, the report said.
Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has cracked down on voices that criticize national heroes or question the official narrative about them. In 2018, the country passed a law to ban the slander of national “heroes and martyrs,” a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.