When Deng Xiaoping visited Malaysia, he was said to have remarked that the spice-enriched Malaysian “Peking Duck” concoction was better than Beijing’s signature fare, then unadulterated for centuries. That was in 1978, before Deng’s phenomenal modernisation transformed China into the economic powerhouse it is today and it was exulting again in its worldfamous cuisine.
Urban legend or not, adaptations can certainly spice up a cultural item. Parallels in other fields can certainly be noted. In the world of art, for example, this phenomenon is mirrored in the variations – and perhaps betterment in some cases – made in the Chinese brush genre by Malaysian artists over the years.
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