Do you know that tofu was as soon as considered meals for ghosts? That’s one legend connected to its origins, no less than. Created in the course of the Han Dynasty some two thousand years in the past, the soybean product was thought-about a perfect meal for the dearly-departed as a result of it’s gentle and ghosts (clearly) don’t have robust jaws. And what if I instructed you that tofu’s maintain on America’s hippie tradition was because of a cult chief who thought he may telepathically talk with animals? On this week’s Gastropod, hosts Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber discover the historical past of tofu, which — regardless of Western assumptions about taste — is something however bland.
So how did tofu make the soar from northeastern China to the Western world within the first place? It’s largely because of Li Yuying, additionally identified by his honorary identify Li Shizeng, who was despatched to France by the Qing Dynasty to steal navy secrets and techniques within the early 1900s. It seems that Li made a horrible spy as a result of — as is the case in all good tales of espionage — he fell in love. Not with an individual, however with France and later, once more with the soybean.
After dropping out of French navy faculty, Li would finally research on the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the place he performed in-depth analysis on all issues soy. Later, he based Usine de la Caséo-Sojaïne — the Tofu Manufacturing Co. — simply exterior of Paris. It was Europe’s first tofu producer. (He additionally grew to become an ardent anarchist and vegetarian, who used his firm to supply jobs for Chinese language college students to assist cowl tuition whereas they studied in Paris.)
Li Yuying’s imaginative and prescient of soy-ful future in the end didn’t seize maintain of the French food plan and the Tofu Manufacturing Co. closed after a pair a long time. (Not a nasty run, although, proper?) His analysis and efforts, nonetheless, did introduce a brand new portion of the world to soybean merchandise, contributing to tofu’s present standing as a global meals staple, celebrated not simply as filler or car for seasoning, however one thing with it’s personal distinctive and delicate flavors.
Whether or not or not it’s nonetheless a favourite of ghosts? You’ll should summon one to ask.