Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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  Page 121  

AFTER THE WAR                            121

interwoven with gold and silver, a few carpets, and two
daggers set with precious stones.

During their stay I paid them three visits, having been
introduced as a physician by one of my friends, the son of
an Usbec, who has amassed a fortune at this court. It was
my design to collect such useful particulars concerning
their country as they might be able to supply, but I found
them ignorant beyond all conception. They were un¬
acquainted even with the boundaries of Usbec, and could
give no information respecting the Tartars who a few
years ago subjugated China.^ In short, I could elicit by
my conversation with the ambassadors scarcely one new-
fact. Once I was desirous of dining with them, and as
they were persons of very little ceremony, I did not find
it difficult to be admitted at their table. The meal ap¬
peared to me very strange; it consisted only of horse¬
flesh. I contrived, however, to dine. There was a
ragout which I thought eatable, and I should have
considered myself guilty of a breach of good manners
if I had not praised a dish so pleasing to their palate.
Not a word was uttered during dinner; my elegant hosts
were fully employed in cramming their mouths with as
much pelau^ as they could contain; for with the use of
spoons these people are unacquainted.    But when  their

! The first Tartar (correctly Tatar) conquest of China was in i loo.
The invaders were afterwards expelled, but reconquered China in 1644,
when Shun-chee, or, as it is sometimes written, Chun-chee, was de¬
clared Emperor. It is to this conquest that Bernier here refers, the
Manchoo Tartar dynasty then established continuing to the present day.

^ A corruption of the Persian word palao, that favourite dish ainong
the Muhammadans in the East. Ovington, in A Voyage to Suratt, in
the Year 1689, p. 397 (Lond. 1696), tells us that 'Patau, that is. Rice
boiled so artificially, that every grain lies singly without being added
together, with Spices intermixt, and a boil'd Fowl in the middle, is
the most common Indian Dish; and a dumpoked Fowl, that is, boil'd
with butter in any small Vessel, and stuft with Raisons and Almonds,
is another.' 'Dumpoked ' is meant for dumpilkht, from the Persian,
meaning ' steam-cooked.' For achieving a dumpokht fowl to perfec¬
tion, a bain-marie pan must be used.
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