Feel the Burn: Hacker-Pschorr Brauhaus Serves German Hospitality, Brews, and Sausages by the Bucket-Load

In the wake of TBJ's successful Hot & Spicy Festival, our fiery restaurant coverage continues with our Feel the Burn series. Those of you who acquired a taste for all things hot at the fest can maintain the burn by visiting these chili-rife eateries.

The spice in our stomachs has just about settled down and our lips no longer feel like they are being licked by the fires of hell. But that sweet, sweet relief is also coupled with a pang of nostalgia for all those fiery flavors. Thankfully a quick fix can be found at Hacker-Pschorr Brauhaus, where German hospitality, meat, and beers reign supreme. With just one look at their 1L beers and the platter-sized plates of food (they're mostly to share, let's not get too greedy), it quickly becomes clear that no one will leave this restaurant hungry, or thirsty. Their selection of spicy sausages, meanwhile, will settle your cravings for something hot.

With the spring weather taking a stronger hold of Beijing, it's time to move outside onto the city's sunny terraces, of which Hacker-Pschorr may just boast one of the best. A liter of the aforementioned beer will keep you entertained and cool while you gulp down bite after bite of Bavarian classics, including sausages, potatoes, and, of course, lashings and lashings of sauerkraut.

Below, we ask Hacker-Pschorr what inspired their spicy choices at our Hot & Spicy Festival.

What did you bring to our Hot & Spicy Fest? 
Two kinds of spicy sausage. Since we're a German restaurant, we select from a cuisine that boasts of hundreds of kinds of sausages. When we thought about which spicy dish to bring, we also wanted it to represent German cuisine and spicy sausages was a great fit for both.

What spicy dishes do you sell in your restaurant? Which is the most popular and why?
The spicy tomato prawns are very popular with our guests. Since German meals mainly feature pork, diners often like to add some other meat or seafood as an alternative.

What drink do you like to pair with spicy food? 
We often recommend pairing a house brew with any of our spicy dishes. There's nothing more refreshing than washing down a hot dish with a fizzy gulp of beer. 

What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
Millet chili, a type of chili pepper.

What’s your go-to spicy comfort food?
Sichuan cuisine or any sort of hot pot.

In one word, how does eating spicy food make you feel? 
Hardcore.

Can you handle more heat? Be sure to check out the latest issue of our Hot & Spicy themed magazine as well as our ongoing chili related restaurant coverage.

More by this author here.
Email: [email protected]

Images courtesy of Hacker-Pschorr Brauhaus, the Beijinger

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DaBozz Brings Dreamscape Hip-Hop Verses to Omni Space, Apr 20

Hip-hop has been riding a high tide in China for the last few years. With influences flowing from both western street trap and gentler South Korean stages, the Mainland's rappers have formed a strong, distinctive core. 

But can hip-hop also be born from mysticism and dreams? DaBozz proves that unlikely notion possible, taking inspiration not from the mean streets but instead fantasy worlds. Even though the media frequently pigeonholes her as a "female rapper" DaBozz works to subvert preconceived notions with her uniquely muted lyrics and jazzy instrumentals. In that sense, her songs could be a gateway to hip-hop, luring the audience in with rhythmic lullaby melodies. 

DaBozz will hit the Omni Space stage on Apr 20 with DJ Diamond Lil and VJ Silver Salt Studio. Together, their music and visuals will take the audience through dreamy landscapes. Ahead of the show, we spoke to DaBozz about her mystical style.

TBJ: Your music is often said to have Japanese sounds, who would you say are your biggest influences?
DaBozz: 椎名林檎(Sheena Ringo).

How would you describe your own music style?
Art-Pop. Asian Pop.

What is it like being a female rapper in such a male-dominated genre? Do you see more advantages or disadvantages in that?
It depends on what you want and the size of your ambition. If you want to have your own niche or display a stronger stance and stronger language, it can be difficult. But if like me, it's just self-expression, then it’s hard to discuss any advantages or disadvantages.

What are the main topics you explore in your music?
Everlasting feelings and emotions, secrets hiding in the living things on earth.

Where do you get inspiration for songs?
It comes from works of art, dreams, or strange witnessed moments. I don't want my songs to be too close to reality. It's more about exploring the emotions embedded beyond reality.

We are trying to get to know more about Chinese hip-hop, who should we listen to? 
蛋堡(Soft Lipa), 小老虎(J-fever), and of course 大包子(DaBozz).

Hear DaBozz and venture through her dreamy landscapes at Omni Space this Friday (RMB 120-150). Find Tickets here

More by this author here.
Email: [email protected]

Images: DaBozz Weibo page

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Feel The Burn: Panda Brewery’s Curious Spicy Eats for the Hot & Spicy Festival

Now that our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival is in full swing this weekend at Galaxy Soho, we're Feeling the Burn with a few of the vendors to see what fiery wares they'll be slinging for attendees.

While Panda Brew is known for their wide variety of craft beers, that's not all that they'll be bringing to this year's Hot & Spicy Fest. When you visit their tent you'll also be able to order up some... hotpot. This got us really scratching our heads and looking forward to their appearance at the event all the more.

Besides the hotpot, Panda Brew will be bringing more typical festival fare like pulled pork burgers. To wash the burning spice down, they will also bring a selection of their brews. 

Panda Brew started as a tiny space (reportedly one of the tiniest pubs in Beijing at the time, occupying merely 15 square meters) in Wudaoying hutong. From there, they opened a significantly more spacious second location in Beixinqiao. Last time we visited, the second floor was stuffed with giant fluffy pandas, in keeping with their logo and name. 

Below, the Panda team tells us more about their unique contribution to the Hot & Spicy Fest.

Tell us what spicy treats you’ll be bringing to Galaxy Soho this weekend.
We will bring spicy hotpot and pulled pork burgers to the Hot & Spicy Fest. The inspiration for these dishes came from Sichuanese cuisine.

What spicy dishes do you sell in your restaurant? Which are the most popular and why? 
We sell burgers and hot pot in Panda Brew. Hotpot is definitely the most popular food here because most of us like to eat spicy food.

What drink do you like to pair with spicy food? 
We like to pair spicy food with draft beers.

What’s your go-to spicy comfort food? 
Hotpot will always be my go-to comfort food.

In one word, how does eating spicy food make you feel?
Cool.

Panda Brew along with 40 more of Beijing’s top purveyors of chili-infused grub, will be in attendance at our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival at Galaxy Soho on Apr 14-15. If you have yet to grab your RMB 20 presale ticket, do so by scanning the QR code in the poster above or read more on what to expect here.

Images: Panda brew, Tracy Wang

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Feel the Burn: Test Your Spice-Tolerance at Hot & Spicy Fest With Punjabi’s Fiery Indian Treats

In the lead up to our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival on Apr 14-15 at Galaxy Soho, we'll Feel the Burn with a few of the vendors to see what fiery wares they'll be slinging come that rapidly approaching fine spring weekend.

No spicy party would be complete without Punjabi's Indian take on the sacred chili. A proud host of our last Hot Chili Pepper Eating Competition back in November, Punjabi now returns to feed the crowds of the Hot & Spicy Festival with a range of specially-made spicy snacks, putting a casual and modern spin on their time-tested Indian classics.

Not only is Punjabi's food hot, according to founder Gireesh S Chowdhury, but it can also make you feel "sexy-red-hot on the outside," which sounds like just about the most legitimate reason to stuff your mouth with as many chilies as you can fit in it. We spoke to Chowdhury about the stories behind Punjabi's and which fiery dishes they'll provide come Apr 14-15. 

Tell us what you’ll be bringing to our Hot & Spicy Fest, and what inspired it.
We will be bringing the heat and the taste of the fiery spices from the Indian subcontinent. We have created modern dishes that eschew oil and heaviness, yet maintain their flavors. Did I mention ... the HEAT! Our inspiration came from watching the contestants put down one spicy chili after another at the Beijinger Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest, which Punjabi helped to organize.

What spicy dishes do you sell in your restaurant? Which are the most popular and why? 
One of our regular customers and a good friend, Mark, used to love a lamb tikka at Punjabi but always complained it wasn’t hot enough. So as a challenge, we took the Indian “65” dish, modified it for lamb and added a whole lot of various chilies (my chefs said they really wanted to see his face the next day)!

What drink do you like to pair with spicy food?
Nothing beats a sweet refreshing mango lassi or a chilled Kingfisher beer.

What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
The super-hot ghost peppers that I had at the Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest. A different level of burn: It doesn’t burn the mouth immediately, but the burn starts from around your midriff and the lights your innards on fire all the way to the throat and then the mouth.

What’s your go-to spicy comfort food? 
My kitchen! Whole-wheat pan-made “paratha” with raw red onions and tiny Thai green/red chilies! 

In one word, how does eating spicy food make you feel? 
Warm and fuzzy on the inside, and sexy-red-hot on the outside!

Punjabi, along with 40 more of Beijing’s top purveyors of chili-infused grub, will be in attendance at our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival at Galaxy Soho on Apr 14-15. If you have yet to grab your RMB 20 presale ticket, do so by scanning the QR code in the poster above or read more on what to expect here.

Photo courtesy of Punjabi

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Feel the Burn: Test Your Spice-Tolerance at Hot & Spicy Fest With Punjabi’s Fiery Indian Treats

In the lead up to our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival on Apr 14-15 at Galaxy Soho, we'll Feel the Burn with a few of the vendors to see what fiery wares they'll be slinging come that rapidly approaching fine spring weekend.

No spicy party would be complete without Punjabi's Indian take on the sacred chili. A proud host of our last Hot Chili Pepper Eating Competition back in November, Punjabi now returns to feed the crowds of the Hot & Spicy Festival with a range of specially-made spicy snacks, putting a casual and modern spin on their time-tested Indian classics.

Not only is Punjabi's food hot, according to founder Gireesh S Chowdhury, but it can also make you feel "sexy-red-hot on the outside," which sounds like just about the most legitimate reason to stuff your mouth with as many chilies as you can fit in it. We spoke to Chowdhury about the stories behind Punjabi's and which fiery dishes they'll provide come Apr 14-15. 

Tell us what you’ll be bringing to our Hot & Spicy Fest, and what inspired it.
We will be bringing the heat and the taste of the fiery spices from the Indian subcontinent. We have created modern dishes that eschew oil and heaviness, yet maintain their flavors. Did I mention ... the HEAT! Our inspiration came from watching the contestants put down one spicy chili after another at the Beijinger Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest, which Punjabi helped to organize.

What spicy dishes do you sell in your restaurant? Which are the most popular and why? 
One of our regular customers and a good friend, Mark, used to love a lamb tikka at Punjabi but always complained it wasn’t hot enough. So as a challenge, we took the Indian “65” dish, modified it for lamb and added a whole lot of various chilies (my chefs said they really wanted to see his face the next day)!

What drink do you like to pair with spicy food?
Nothing beats a sweet refreshing mango lassi or a chilled Kingfisher beer.

What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
The super-hot ghost peppers that I had at the Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest. A different level of burn: It doesn’t burn the mouth immediately, but the burn starts from around your midriff and the lights your innards on fire all the way to the throat and then the mouth.

What’s your go-to spicy comfort food? 
My kitchen! Whole-wheat pan-made “paratha” with raw red onions and tiny Thai green/red chilies! 

In one word, how does eating spicy food make you feel? 
Warm and fuzzy on the inside, and sexy-red-hot on the outside!

Punjabi, along with 40 more of Beijing’s top purveyors of chili-infused grub, will be in attendance at our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival at Galaxy Soho on Apr 14-15. If you have yet to grab your RMB 20 presale ticket, do so by scanning the QR code in the poster above or read more on what to expect here.

Photo courtesy of Punjabi

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Feel the Burn: A Punchy of Mix Indian-American Fusion at Hot & Spicy Fest With Side Street

In the lead up to our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival on Apr 14-15 at Galaxy Soho, we'll Feel the Burn with a few of the vendors to see what fiery wares they'll be slinging come that rapidly approaching fine spring weekend.

What do you get when two world-renowned spicy cuisines meld together? Why, a chili-loaded and sweat-inducing celebration of flavors, of course. The team behind Side Street (a revamp of the previously rowdy Ron Mexico space) prides themselves on creating combinations of deep south Americana eats with Indian flourishes, for some spine-tingling and new options not readily available in Beijing.

No matter whether you're vegetarian or a meat-eater, everyone will find something to enjoy at Side Street's stall come Apr 14-15, from spicy fried potato balls, chili cauliflower or, reportedly, some of the best boneless wings in town. Below, the Jiaodaokou-located gang details their love of spice and describe the exciting fiery wares they'll bring to the festival.

Tell us what you’ll be bringing to our Hot & Spicy Fest, and where the inspiration came from.
We are a multi-cultural team consisting of people from India, the US, and China, so we decided to mix and match the dishes we are going to bring.

Those include the Gobi Manchurian aka Cauliflower Manchurian: An Indo-Chinese dish consisting of cauliflower, a ton of chilies, garlic, ginger, spring onions, beans, vinegar, corn flour, soya sauce, and hot sauce. It has long been a very popular dish in India, and for the majority of the Indian population it’s known to be a Chinese dish, even though it's nowhere to be found in China. It also goes really well with an ice-cold beer. 

Buffalo boneless wings: These might sound generic but we believe we sell some of the best boneless wings in Beijing. We thought people should try our boneless wings and decide for themselves if what we claim is true, but we do have a lot of customers that come to our restaurant just to have boneless wings paired with some craft beer. 

Potato fireballs: Another Indian-inspired dish, this is one of our bestselling appetizers on the menu. It’s mashed potatoes mixed with a ton of chilies, garlic, onion, and a bunch of spices fried with chickpea batter and served with tangy tamarind sauce. 

What spicy dishes do you sell in your restaurant? Which is the most popular and why?
Our menu is mainly focused on spicy food. All our burgers and appetizers have a spice element to them and feature rich flavors. Our Spicy Squatter (spicy beef patty, spicy bourbon barbecue sauce, jalapenos) is one of our bestsellers and the perfect example to demonstrate what our menu and restaurant are about, namely spicy flavors. Potato fireballs are another of our bestsellers and are a unique dish to Beijing and especially unique for a bar and restaurant. They pair really well with beer, which people want to drink more and more of due to their spicy and tangy flavors. 

We also launched our new menu recently and have a new dish that is very spicy and tangy: puffy nuts made from puffed rice. This dish originates from a dish called “Bhel” from India. 

What drink do you like to pair with spicy food? 
There has to be one and only drink: Beer! A good ice-cold lager paired with spicy food. Nothing beats that.

What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
Homemade Indian pickles made by my grandmother. Every summer she makes hot and spicy mango pickles with mustard seeds and chili powder. The chili powder she uses is blended from dry red chilies from the province I grew up in, and are supposedly the hottest chilies you can find in India.

Also recently a friend/customer brought some chilies from Yunnan and we had a little chili eating competition; it wasn’t pleasant.

What’s your go-to spicy comfort food? 
Good nachos, chili bhajis, samosas. A visit to Zhang Mama restaurant once a week also counts as my go-to comfort food. 

In one word, how does eating spicy food make you feel? 
Falling in love with food over and over again. 

Side Street, along with 40 more of Beijing’s top purveyors of chili-infused grub, will be in attendance at our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival at Galaxy Soho on Apr 14-15. If you have yet to grab your RMB 20 presale ticket, do so by scanning the QR code in the poster above or read more on what to expect here.

Photos courtesy of Side Street

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Feel the Burn: A Punchy of Mix Indian-American Fusion at Hot & Spicy Fest With Side Street

In the lead up to our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival on Apr 14-15 at Galaxy Soho, we'll Feel the Burn with a few of the vendors to see what fiery wares they'll be slinging come that rapidly approaching fine spring weekend.

What do you get when two world-renowned spicy cuisines meld together? Why, a chili-loaded and sweat-inducing celebration of flavors, of course. The team behind Side Street (a revamp of the previously rowdy Ron Mexico space) prides themselves on creating combinations of deep south Americana eats with Indian flourishes, for some spine-tingling and new options not readily available in Beijing.

No matter whether you're vegetarian or a meat-eater, everyone will find something to enjoy at Side Street's stall come Apr 14-15, from spicy fried potato balls, chili cauliflower or, reportedly, some of the best boneless wings in town. Below, the Jiaodaokou-located gang details their love of spice and describe the exciting fiery wares they'll bring to the festival.

Tell us what you’ll be bringing to our Hot & Spicy Fest, and where the inspiration came from.
We are a multi-cultural team consisting of people from India, the US, and China, so we decided to mix and match the dishes we are going to bring.

Those include the Gobi Manchurian aka Cauliflower Manchurian: An Indo-Chinese dish consisting of cauliflower, a ton of chilies, garlic, ginger, spring onions, beans, vinegar, corn flour, soya sauce, and hot sauce. It has long been a very popular dish in India, and for the majority of the Indian population it’s known to be a Chinese dish, even though it's nowhere to be found in China. It also goes really well with an ice-cold beer. 

Buffalo boneless wings: These might sound generic but we believe we sell some of the best boneless wings in Beijing. We thought people should try our boneless wings and decide for themselves if what we claim is true, but we do have a lot of customers that come to our restaurant just to have boneless wings paired with some craft beer. 

Potato fireballs: Another Indian-inspired dish, this is one of our bestselling appetizers on the menu. It’s mashed potatoes mixed with a ton of chilies, garlic, onion, and a bunch of spices fried with chickpea batter and served with tangy tamarind sauce. 

What spicy dishes do you sell in your restaurant? Which is the most popular and why?
Our menu is mainly focused on spicy food. All our burgers and appetizers have a spice element to them and feature rich flavors. Our Spicy Squatter (spicy beef patty, spicy bourbon barbecue sauce, jalapenos) is one of our bestsellers and the perfect example to demonstrate what our menu and restaurant are about, namely spicy flavors. Potato fireballs are another of our bestsellers and are a unique dish to Beijing and especially unique for a bar and restaurant. They pair really well with beer, which people want to drink more and more of due to their spicy and tangy flavors. 

We also launched our new menu recently and have a new dish that is very spicy and tangy: puffy nuts made from puffed rice. This dish originates from a dish called “Bhel” from India. 

What drink do you like to pair with spicy food? 
There has to be one and only drink: Beer! A good ice-cold lager paired with spicy food. Nothing beats that.

What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
Homemade Indian pickles made by my grandmother. Every summer she makes hot and spicy mango pickles with mustard seeds and chili powder. The chili powder she uses is blended from dry red chilies from the province I grew up in, and are supposedly the hottest chilies you can find in India.

Also recently a friend/customer brought some chilies from Yunnan and we had a little chili eating competition; it wasn’t pleasant.

What’s your go-to spicy comfort food? 
Good nachos, chili bhajis, samosas. A visit to Zhang Mama restaurant once a week also counts as my go-to comfort food. 

In one word, how does eating spicy food make you feel? 
Falling in love with food over and over again. 

Side Street, along with 40 more of Beijing’s top purveyors of chili-infused grub, will be in attendance at our inaugural Hot & Spicy Festival at Galaxy Soho on Apr 14-15. If you have yet to grab your RMB 20 presale ticket, do so by scanning the QR code in the poster above or read more on what to expect here.

Photos courtesy of Side Street

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“Music is Therapy”: An Interview With Experimental Electronic Music Composer Christopher Chaplin

With our attention spans shrinking in this smartphone age, it can be hard to find the time to submerge yourself in the aural plains of experimental electronic music. But for Christopher Chaplin, it's the everyday sounds around us – a bump, a voice, the ringing of a bell – that inform his compositionally intricate music.

Eerie, roaming, beautiful, and wilting, Chaplin takes inspiration from chamber music and medieval texts, mixing both with a contemporary deftness. You're also more likely to find him playing an art gallery or a festival over a club or a bar. His live shows are often complemented by works from visual artists and take the audience on an audio-visual journey between lulling its viewers into a sense of comfort before sneaking up with an unexpected turn. In that sense, Christopher Chaplin's is an intricate and sophisticated face in the electronic music world and as the term "producer" doesn't do that work justice, "composer" is adopted instead. 

We spoke to Chaplin ahead of the first date of his China tour, Apr 3 at Yue Space, where he'll be reworking songs from his upcoming album Paradise Lost

Your music weaves in classical instruments and orchestral samples more than you may usually hear in contemporary electronic music. Where does that influence come from? What is your relationship with the academic music world?
Christopher Chaplin:
My first love for music came from listening to classical music. At the time when I was about 16 years old, I wanted to be a classical pianist or a composer. I took composition lessons for a very brief period of time. That's a far as I got with an academic formation. I have a very basic and limited theoretical understanding of music. I just about know how to read and write music.

You play in art galleries, museums, and festivals. How does that tend to affect your audience make-up?
Until now, most of my live performances have been with [veteran German experimental musician] Hans Joachim Roedelius. They always took place in interesting venues, often galleries. The audience has always been surprisingly young. There is a renewed interest, I think, and appreciation of the music that was being created at the time in Germany from 1968 onwards.

You are the son of Charlie Chaplin. Has carrying his surname ever presented you with difficulties or was it relatively painless to carve out your own niche and get people to look past the name? 
Music is therapy for me. I am not so much trying to carve out my own niche as trying to discover my own identity. It is something that is very personal, and quite self-centered. How people perceive what I do, or who I am is not something that concerns me in this journey.

Tell us about your second solo Paradise Lost album, to be released in June.
The inspiration for Paradise Lost came about from hearing a friend speak those very words: paradise lost. There seems to be so much nostalgia nowadays for a paradise. And humans will create hell in order to achieve it ... I took a few verses at random from Milton's poem for inspiration.

You have also directed and acted in movies. Has your interest in the world of cinema faded away or are you still involved in the scene?
Yes, I became an actor for a while, but I had no real commitment or passion for the craft. It was more as an act of self-preservation after I had failed to enter the music conservatory in Geneva in my 20's. I'm no longer involved in the scene. 

You are playing with the visual artist duo Luma.Launisch in Beijing. How did that collaboration come to life? 
I met Florian when I was playing with Hans Joachim Roedelius. We have worked on many projects together, both with Roedelius and for my two solo albums. Florian made possible and organized this whole China tour. I am immensely grateful to him for it! 

You can hear Christopher Chaplin and Luma.Launisch at Yue Space on Tuesday, Apr 3, at 9pm. Tickets are RMB 100 advance or RMB 150 on the door. Get tickets here.

More by this author here.
Email: [email protected]

Images: Youtube, Twitter, Schaufenster Die Presse

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Throwback Thursday: Maoist Golden Mango Love in the Summer of ’68

Throwback Thursday takes a look back into Beijing's past, using our nine-year-strong blog archives as the source for a glance at the weird and wonderful of yesteryear.

We've all benefitted from China's obsession with fruit and it can be said that the plethora of fruit stacked high and never more than 200 meters away from you at any given time is one of the blessings of living here. Besides the straightforward consumption of fruit, China also has fructose-laced political ties that trace back at least half a century back, specifically 1968. Yes, the Beijinger blog may not have even been alive then but this story harks back to the curious mango-related events of the 1960s in 2013 (a triple Throwback threat, if you will).

Dubbed mango madness in a more liberal media, this story revolves around a gifting of mangoes, one of the greatest fruits on earth. Sadly, the receiver, none other than Chairman Mao, was not such a fan on account of them being too messy to eat (and probably too healthy given his touted penchant for hong shao rou).

Though the details of this story are murky, and the facts, ranks, and figures vary, it is said that in 1968, the foreign minister of Pakistan was visiting Beijing and brought with him a crate of mangoes as a gift to Chairman Mao. But this seemingly innocent gesture sparked a series of unforeseen events. As a true communist, Mao never frowned at a regifting opportunity and so ordered his mango bounty to be sent to some of his favorite propaganda factory workers. Along with a letter of thanks, the crate of mangoes has been delivered to workers much in need of a refreshment given that they were in charge of breaking fighting between factions of Red Guards. 

North China had barely seen any mangoes at the time, and for the workers, it was the epitome of an exotic and unfamiliar fruit. They initially didn't understand that it was even edible, but after a long investigation (various sources report cases of intense smelling, caressing, and other means of inquisition), they welcomed the fruit as a symbol of Chairman's selflessness, which was to be preserved rather than savored.

When the workers were due to return to work, they divided the mangoes and carried them back to their respective factories in Beijing. In order to preserve them as long as possible, some workers bathed the fruit in formaldehyde, while others were waxed or put in glass cases. However, nature always finds a way, and when the mangoes began to rot, one of the factories boiled them up into a soup for the workers to line up and get a spoonful.

Since real mangoes were so scarce at the time, the workers settled on wax mangoes to take the place of their gifted fruit, which proved much easier to transport and parade around. City by city, mango fever spread across China and shortly after word of Mao's selflessness had gone viral, a float designed to look like a bowl of mangoes was displayed during China's 1968 National Day Parade. At that time, mangoes began to represent the People's Republic's gratitude and dependence on the workers.

'68 was truly mango mad and everything from wax mangoes, to mango branded cigarettes were in wild adoration. However, not long after, the fad faded away as quickly as it came. It is rumored that mango souvenirs from the time still float around Beijing's flea markets and go for quite modest prices. Better yet, eschew the glass case and go for a bag of real, ripe mangoes from your local grocer instead. 

More by this author here.
Email: [email protected]

Images: Collectors Weekly, Telegraph

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Throwback Thursday: Maoist Golden Mango Love in the Summer of ’68

Throwback Thursday takes a look back into Beijing's past, using our nine-year-strong blog archives as the source for a glance at the weird and wonderful of yesteryear.

We've all benefitted from China's obsession with fruit and it can be said that the plethora of fruit stacked high and never more than 200 meters away from you at any given time is one of the blessings of living here. Besides the straightforward consumption of fruit, China also has fructose-laced political ties that trace back at least half a century back, specifically 1968. Yes, the Beijinger blog may not have even been alive then but this story harks back to the curious mango-related events of the 1960s in 2013 (a triple Throwback threat, if you will).

Dubbed mango madness in a more liberal media, this story revolves around a gifting of mangoes, one of the greatest fruits on earth. Sadly, the receiver, none other than Chairman Mao, was not such a fan on account of them being too messy to eat (and probably too healthy given his touted penchant for hong shao rou).

Though the details of this story are murky, and the facts, ranks, and figures vary, it is said that in 1968, the foreign minister of Pakistan was visiting Beijing and brought with him a crate of mangoes as a gift to Chairman Mao. But this seemingly innocent gesture sparked a series of unforeseen events. As a true communist, Mao never frowned at a regifting opportunity and so ordered his mango bounty to be sent to some of his favorite propaganda factory workers. Along with a letter of thanks, the crate of mangoes has been delivered to workers much in need of a refreshment given that they were in charge of breaking fighting between factions of Red Guards. 

North China had barely seen any mangoes at the time, and for the workers, it was the epitome of an exotic and unfamiliar fruit. They initially didn't understand that it was even edible, but after a long investigation (various sources report cases of intense smelling, caressing, and other means of inquisition), they welcomed the fruit as a symbol of Chairman's selflessness, which was to be preserved rather than savored.

When the workers were due to return to work, they divided the mangoes and carried them back to their respective factories in Beijing. In order to preserve them as long as possible, some workers bathed the fruit in formaldehyde, while others were waxed or put in glass cases. However, nature always finds a way, and when the mangoes began to rot, one of the factories boiled them up into a soup for the workers to line up and get a spoonful.

Since real mangoes were so scarce at the time, the workers settled on wax mangoes to take the place of their gifted fruit, which proved much easier to transport and parade around. City by city, mango fever spread across China and shortly after word of Mao's selflessness had gone viral, a float designed to look like a bowl of mangoes was displayed during China's 1968 National Day Parade. At that time, mangoes began to represent the People's Republic's gratitude and dependence on the workers.

'68 was truly mango mad and everything from wax mangoes, to mango branded cigarettes were in wild adoration. However, not long after, the fad faded away as quickly as it came. It is rumored that mango souvenirs from the time still float around Beijing's flea markets and go for quite modest prices. Better yet, eschew the glass case and go for a bag of real, ripe mangoes from your local grocer instead. 

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Images: Collectors Weekly, Telegraph

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