Hoping to learn why Chairman Mao, like me, considered pork belly “brain food”, I found just this:
The local government in Hunan [where Mao was from] has sought to standardize the cooking of the dish [Mao’s favorite pork belly dish], in order to stem the tide of imitations that crowd Chinese restaurants.
According to stringent instructions from the government’s food quality supervision and testing institute, true hong shao rou [red braised pork] can only be made with the meat of rare pigs from Ningxiang county. Officials have designated the pig, which has been bred for nearly 1,000 years, as an “agricultural treasure”.
I tried pork belly from different sorts of pigs (e.g., black pigs) but never noticed a difference.
Hunan Province is also the location of West Lake restaurant, one of the largest restaurants in the world. I’ve been watching “The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World,” a wonderful BBC documentary about it. The owner attributes her success to her first husband, who made her furious.