How a Murder Plot led to... Breakfast?
Updated: Mar 21, 2021
(Cover image from here)
One common breakfast item and street food in China is youtiao (油条). The deep-fried dough twists are similar to churros, but are often dipped in soy milk or eaten with congee, or coffee. Youtiao is now sold around Asia, but where did this comforting, delicious pastry come from?
According to folklore, the story begins in the 12th Century (Song Dynasty), with the politician Qin Kuai... And a dark plot to overthrow his political rival. It is believed that Qin and his wife helped to orchestrate a plan to murder the popular general, and national hero, Yue Fei.
Yue Fei was allegedly framed for treason and removed from his position as a general. Following this, he was imprisoned and executed. Unfortunately, the plan didn't quite go as hoped: Qin was condemned as corrupt, given cruel nicknames, and is remembered even today as a traitor. Qin built a reputation for censorship, exiling his other enemies, and removing political opponents from the government, until he himself lost power.
So, what does a tale of corruption and murder have to do with fried dough twists?
Youtiao stems from the longer phrase You Char Kuai (油炸桧), which translates literally to "deep-fried Kuai". When the Chinese people heard that their loyal general had been murdered, they were livid. It is believed that youtiao was created in protest by an angry street food vendor: the two dough twists represented the traitor Qin Kuai and his wife. As the vendor threw the dough into the hot oil, he allegedly cried, "Kuai is deep-fried!"
And so, youtiao was created: people fried youtiao and ate it as if they would do the same to Qin and his wife.
In modern times, Tiao (条), the character for dough, replaced Char Kuai (炸桧) in the dish's name, which now translates to "fried dough".
Are you curious to try youtiao for yourself?
If so, you can order fresh handmade youtiao (with handmade soy milk) from Hotpot Spot, delivered straight to your door; check our website for opening times!