Jadeite Cabbage With Insects

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Fabulous treasures from China's imperial past make Taiwan's National Palace Museum a must-see. One of the biggest attractions is a small statuette, shaped like a bok choy cabbage. While it might seem like an unusual subject, looking closely will reveal the reason for the cabbage's immense fame: The cabbage was carved out of a single piece of green-and-white jade, which gives it a surprisingly realistic look. On its leaves, a delicately carved locust and katydid (a type of cricket) perch. Its artistry, unusual subject, and the fact it likely belonged to a Qing-dynasty consort give the cabbage massive popular appeal, making it one of the most-viewed objects at the museum.

Walking the floors of the massive museum would make anyone hungry. A fine-dining restaurant, the Silks Palace, is onsite, and offers a most unusual banquet: The National Palace Museum Imperial Treasures Feast is modeled after the famous objects on display. It includes a pork version of the museum's famed meat-shaped jasper stone, and fruit arranged in an ice container carved to look like one of China's ancient bronze cauldrons, the Mao-Kung Ting. But the showstopper is undoubtedly the "Jadeite Cabbage with Insects." Made from a tiny, tender bok choy and braised with meat broth, the cabbage is arranged upright in a large spoon to resemble its jade counterpart. Reasonably, the insects on the edible version are represented by two shrimp instead.