You Tiao and Yue Fei
Youtiao is a pair of lightly salted, deep fried dough strip commonly found in most Chinatowns around the world.
Although it may look simple or even humble, its orgin lies in a popular protest against the unjust murder of a loyal Song dynasty general.
Fall of Northern Song dynasty
On 9 Jan 1127, the Juerchens invaded the Song capital of Kaifeng capturing the reigning emperor and his recently abdicated father. Surviving Song royalty fled south, established a new capital, and began the history of Southern Song dynasty.
Many Song subjects attempted to rescue the capturerd emperors and to recover lost terrorities. One of the most famous of them was Yue Fei (岳飞) who led various campaigns and pushed northwards almost reaching their fallen capital Kaifeng.
Unfortunatly for Yue Fei, the new Southern Song empeor, Gao Zong, was concerned about his career in the event the captured emperors return to court while his minister Qin Hui was a pacifist but more commonly perceived as a traitor.
This common interest led to Yue Fei’s summon back to court and subsequent imprisonment. Qin Hui and his wife, Lady Wang, then fabricated charges against Yue Fei leading to his execution at the age of 39.
Public protest and You Tiao
The public was skeptical about Yue Fei’s charges but had no avenue to protest against the powerful Prime Minister.
In retialiation, they began joining two dough strips symbolizing Qin Hui and Lady Wang and deep-frying them in hot oil.
They were probably inspired by popular Buddhist belief of punishment in hell for evil doers and in any case, you tiao’s popularity spread, became a common food item and as an abode of historical memory.
The Cantonese still call You tiao, You Zhar Gui (油炸鬼). This might be due to Guang Zhou being the last resistance front before the Song dynasty collapsed.
You Tiao has since become a popular food item with multiple ways of consumption.