Monday, 5 October 2015
Nanyin Music, Food and Tea Appreciation - Multi-sensory Liyuan Banquet JK1257
Nanyin 南音 (Southern Music) is an ancient but thriving Chinese music art form dating back over 2000 years to the Han dynasty. Nanyin was originally palace music and dance performed for the Han emperors' pleasure. Today, Nanyin is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Nanyin came to Singapore in the early 1900s along with immigrants from Fujian, China where Nanyin is part of everyday life of the Minnan 閩南 people. (Most Singaporean Chinese have Fujian/ Minnan roots.) Several Nanyin organisations were established - Siong Leng Musical Association (湘灵音乐社) is one of only two surviving in Singapore.
Last night, I had the privilege to attend an enchanting evening of Nanyin, food and tea appreciation hosted by Siong Leng Musical Association. The dinner known as "Multi-sensory Liyuan Banquet" was held at Tim Palace in SAFRA Toa Payoh. (Liyuan 梨园 is Fujian opera performed together with Nanyin.)
Guests perform a simple hand washing ceremony before entering the banquet hall. The ceremony helps guests calm down, cast aside distracting thoughts and be fully present (mentally) to enjoy the Nanyin/ Liyuan performance.
The welcoming party greeted the guests from all ages as they filed in.
It was a grand evening of Nanyin, food and tea appreciation. Attended by about 500 guests, it is heartwarming to see support for the traditional art form, growing from strength to strength.
The appreciation of food and drink went beyond the level of our 5 senses of sight, hearing, feel, smell and taste to engage also our minds in their symbolic meanings.
Two teas were served for appreciation. The teas were from Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchants, an ardent supporter of Nanyin.
The first tea is known as "Ancient Charm". It's a blend of bitter tea with aged daffodil giving the slightly bitter brew a sweet aftertaste. "Ancient Charm" symbolises the spirit of pioneers whose sacrifices are rewarded with success. It also symbolises the continuity between challenges and triumphs of the stalwarts of traditional arts such as Nanyin.
First dish served was the customary "Auspicious Four Platter".
Clockwise - Hua Diao drunken chicken roll with Osmanthus flower, steamed pork belly with Canton Abrus herb, fried duck breast with hibiscus flowers in 5 cup sauce, and sauteed fresh scallop with chili bean sauce.
Double boiled fresh Chinese yam with chicken in chrysanthemum soup.
The second tea blend is "Spring Wind 春風" served in wine glasses. It's a King of Tie Guan Yin 2015 鐵觀音王 brew which tastes sweet with a sweet aftertaste. The "Spring Wind" tea symbolises the renewal in Siong Leng. The musical association growing from strength to strength, successfully meeting and adapting to new challenges.
Pan fried "Pi Pa" Tofu with Supreme Stock. The pi pa tofu is shaped like a 琵琶 and symbolises Nanyin musicians presenting offerings to Shu Han Dynasty Emperor Meng Chang 孟昶 who supported Nanyin.
Steamed bamboo fungus with "three shredded" in clear chicken broth.
This dish is inspired by the story of Emperor Shun's concubines. When Shun died, his two concubines were so grief stricken that they drown themselves in Xiang River. The chicken broth symbolises the river, the bamboo shoots represent the bamboos along Xiang River banks and the three shredded vegetables refer to Emperor Shun and his concubines who were worshipped as goddesses.
The Nanyin disciples performed a ballad relating the ancient story while guests tasted the dish - multi-sensory dining indeed.
Braised dried seafood with wax meat and mushroom in hot stone pot.
This dish was inspired by offerings used in ceremonies to honour Meng Chang, the patron of Nanyin.
Tonight, the truly multi-sensory banquet must have converted many new supporters of Nanyin, including myself. I felt my mind and body well nourished by the spectacle.
Family photo with all main supporters of Siong Leng Musical Association and Nanyin on stage to celebrate another successful Nanyin/ Liyuan performance.
The final ceremony before sending off the Nanyin supporters and guests after the banquet.
Click here -> to read more about Nanyin
Click here -> to read more about Pek Sin Choon teas
Date: 5 Oct 2015
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