During the reign of Empress Wu, in Tang dynasty China, the Zhang brothers held inordinate influence, which they wielded with a certain lack of grace and subtlety. They gladly accepted bribes, but their memories left something to be desired. One graduate by the name of Xue approached Zhang Changyi, a sibling of the more famous brothers, and offered him fifty ounces of gold in exchange for his services in getting him an appointment. Changyi agreed, but couldn’t remember the man’s first name. Unwilling to anger the Zhang brothers, the vice-president of the board was forced to simply appoint every graduate by the name of Xue: sixty men in all.
In 1870, a Frenchman visiting Beijing commissioned some pottery from a local potter. Years passed, and he never received the pottery, and eventually he forgot about it and died. In 1936, his nephew received a large, unexpected package from China. When he opened it, he found the commissioned pieces, along with a note from the potter’s son. The original potter had died before he could complete the work, so his son had learned the trade and completed the pieces, in order to fulfill the original contract. He asked the Frenchman to please pardon the delay.
When Richard Nixon first visited China, among the many things he experienced was authentic Chinese cuisine. Nixon loved the food, and every time he especially liked a dish, he asked Chairman Mao what sort of food it was. Mao, a local patriot from Hunan province, would unfailingly say that every one of Nixon’s favorites was Hunan cuisine. Upon his return, President Nixon raved about the excellency of Hunan cuisine, prompting many American Chinese restaurants to begin boasting about their own Hunan cuisine, whether or not they actually had any. And this is why so many Chinese restaurants in America “specialize” in Hunan cuisine.