Food - Drink
The 500-Year-Old Chinese 'Bagel' Invented To Help Soldiers Avoid Detection
By CYRENA GOURDEAU
There are a multitude of bagels out there in the world, and what makes a bagel stand out from other carb-loaded bread forms is its distinctive shape: a round piece of bread with a hole in the middle. In the Fujian province of China, guang bing, which translates to "shiny biscuit," is China's answer to a bagel since it has a crispy and shiny exterior and a hole through the middle.
The guang bing's place in history also has more than just culinary importance: It helped win a war. Famed General Qi Jiquang of the Ming Dynasty is known for renovating the Great Wall of China and defending the nation against Japanese pirates, but in the year 1563, his war tactics also inadvertently led to the invention of the beloved guang bing bread.
Because the Chinese soldiers' cooking campfires led the Japanese to the army camps, General Qi's answer to stifle the pirates was to bake bread in an underground clay oven in stealth mode. Another deliberate tactical strategy was to make a hole in the guang bing so that the food could be strung around a necklace and eaten while fleeing or during an ambush.