The jade cabbage and stone pork in the National Palace Museum are so lifelike that visitors can’t believe their eyes. Gemstone enthusiast Hsu Chun-i has spent more than a decade collecting nearly 400 stones that bear a remarkable resemblance to Chinese and western delicacies. Recently, on the invitation of the Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, Hsu is holding a “Strange Stone Banquet Exhibition,” with 150 selected items on show.
“Eat, Drink and Be Merry — Mr Hsu Chun-i’s Strange Stone Banquet Exhibition” is open from now until June 30 on the ninth floor of the library building of Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science. On show are a banquet table full of Manchu-style dishes, one of Han Chinese-style food and one of country-style snacks, plus dozens of Chinese and western delicacies such as preserved eggs, beefsteaks, dried longans, strawberries and so on — everything a hungry guest could ask for.
Hsu says he has been collecting stones for over 20 years. At first he collected mostly Taiwanese gemstones. Then, 13 years ago, he saw the jade cabbage, stone pork and other exhibits at the National Palace Museum. From then on, he changed to collecting stone food.
Hsu says he gets most of the items in his collection by visiting wholesale dealers, where he picks them out one by one. Around seven out of every ten of his food-like stones come from the Gobi Desert in Chinese Inner Mongolia. These Gobi gems have a relative hardness of about 7. Many of them are chalcedony or agate, and they come in a wealth of colors. By cleverly matching them up with other stones, Hsu can make them into course after course of petrified cuisine.
Anton: Have you seen George’s latest hairstyle?
Nigel: No. What has he done this time?
Anton: He’s got a green Mohawk and he has dyed his beard white.
Nigel:That sounds terrible. Are you going to tell him to change it?
Anton: No. He’s very proud of his new style. That would be like showing a red rag to a bull.
Nigel:So what will you do?
Anton: Nothing. If he wants to make a fool of himself, it’s up to him.
a red rag to a bull 激怒某人的事物
When something is like a red rag to a bull, it is likely to make someone very angry.
當某事物像是「a red rag to a bull」，就表示它可能會嚴重激怒某人。
According to Hsu, collecting the stony ingredients is no easy task. On one occasion, he spent several days squatting and picking over 40 tons of “iron jade” to gather just a bowlful of dried longans.
Hsu points out that none of his rocky food items has been artificially dyed, cut or otherwise processed. At most, they have had a little baby oil rubbed onto them. Rubbing stones with baby oil gives them extra sheen, and is accepted practice among collectors.
(Translated by Julian Clegg)