Eat Vinegar – Story of Fang Xuanling’s Wife

Voon Nam Cafe - Black Vinegar Noodle

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Jealousy. The green eyed monster. Jealousy is defined as the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values. This is different to envy as envy is when you crave what others have.

Have you or your partner ever been jealous before? I know I have but that was a long time ago. I trust my partner completely and I hope I won’t find myself back in the mire that is jealousy. Of course, if something like the following clip happens, it would be difficult for most people not to become jealous.

This my friends is what we Chinese call “eating vinegar”. The story goes something like this. There once was a great Minister of the Tang Dynasty named Fang Xuanling. The Emperor at the time, Emperor Taizong, wanted to bestow a couple of concubines for his loyal Minister. Fan Xuanling dared not accept the Emperor’s gift because he was afraid of his wife but since it is a gift from the Emperor he had no choice but to accept it.

However the wife would have none of it. Angry and screaming, she forced him to return the two concubines. When the Emperor got wind of the situation, he thought up a scheme to tame the shrew of a wife. He summoned Fan Xuanling and his wife. He gave the minister’s wife a choice, take in the concubines or drink a jar of poisoned wine. Rather than lose her husband to two beautiful ladies, Fan Xuanling wife decided to go for the poisoned wine.

The Emperor laughed boisterously and said that the wine was nothing more than vinegar. He then told Fan Xuanling “Even I am afraid of your wife!”. Ever since then “eating vinegar” has been a popular phrase for being jealous.

There are of course more enjoyable ways of “eating vinegar”. One of which can be found at Voon Nam Cafe off Jalan Song Thian Cheok and the way is by downing a bowl of black vinegar noodles!

Black Vinegar noodle is basically just a bowl of kolo mee that has an increase in the amount of vinegar that it uses. The taste however is definitely different and definitely an acquired taste. Needless to say, if you are not a fan of vinegar, this dish is a no no.

The black vinegar noodle at Voon Nam Cafe is definitely one of the better ones. When the noodles come, take a deep whiff and you will be greeted with a nice punchy fragrance. The taste is unquestionably of vinegar but it is not lip puckering sourness. As a matter of fact, it actually increases your appetite (at least that is the case for me).

To me, black vinegar noodle is a delicacy of Kuching. If you never tried this before, go ahead try a bowl. What’s the worst that can happen? It is certainly better than having your significant other being gifted two concubines by the Emperor.


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