So why would a food researcher be interested in this man?
Ni Zan was noted for his opinionated lifestyle; and one thing that he seems to have been particularly dogmatic about was how his household was run. He wrote a household manual titled “Yún líntáng yǐnshí zhìdù jí” (Cloud Forest Hall Dietary System). Within this document are fifty-three recipes. A majority of these are how to cook his food. There are also a few interesting recipes on ink preparation, ink stone care, and incense making.
I am aware of two English translations. The first was published in 1998 in Petit Propos Culinarie volume 60. It is a translation and commentary by Teresa Wang and E.N. Anderson. Anderson is known for other works on Eastern food and foodways such as The Food of China.
Petit Propos Culinarie volume 61 published Francoise Sabban’s ‘Some Remarks about the Translation of Yun Lintang Yinshi Zhidu Ji Published in PPC60”. Sabban questioned several of Wang/Anderson’s translations and inferences. This set of remarks is a good addition to the original publication.
The second full translation has only just been published by the scholar, Alec Story, on his blog, Medieval Sundries, in 2018. Story has returned to the Chinese manuscript and fully translated it. His dedication to the translation is evident and has illuminated several issues I had with the original translation.
The primary problem of an English-speaking food studies researcher that does not read Chinese is getting a reliable copy of this work in English. Having these three resources has opened my ability to make better decisions in my assumptions during my redactions.
As I continue with my redactions, I will be referring to both full translations. Both works number the recipes slightly differently and have translated the titles differently. To standardise my redactions, I will refer to both names and numbers. The translations most often give will be those of Story as he has made his work free and has licensed it under the Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike 4.0 International License.