HISTORY IS BEST SERVED COLD AND RUSTY
Updated: Nov 28, 2021
How much would you pay for decades-old food?
Royalists have, quite literally, taken the cake this year when Leeds man Gerry Layton bought a slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake at an auction for 1,850 pounds – that’s almost 3,500 in Australian dollars!
The slice in question consists of cake icing and marzipan base and features a detailed, sugared design of the royal coat of arms in gold, red, blue and silver. It’s been carefully preserved in cling wrap since 1981, first wrapped by Moya Smith, a member of the Queen Mother’s staff.
It was actually estimated to go for 500 pounds at most, but the bids – mainly coming from UK, US and the Middle East – flooded in, raising the price.
But, at 40 years old, it’s far from being the oldest piece of preserved food ever recorded in history.
In 2010, Chinese archaeologists discovered the first evidence of bone soup in Ancient China. And what’s more, it was still a liquid when they found it!
The soup, believed to be 2,400 years old, was unearthed from a tomb near the ancient capital of Xian. Because of how tightly the tomb was sealed, the soup didn’t evaporate...though it did turn green from the oxidation of the bronze cooking pot it was in.
While that might not sound appetising at all, very old (just maybe not thousands of years old) but delicious soup does really exist.
Wattana Panich, a humble establishment in Bangkok owned by Nattapong Kaweenuntawong, has been simmering the same rich-tasting beef noodle soup for more than 40 years, and its customers love it.
In true Asian fashion, the mystical soup has no recipe. For three generations, Nattapong and his family have just kept tasting the soup, which gets stored and transferred to the newly cleaned pot each day, to see which spices (and there are a lot!) need to be added in while it stews for 8 hours before serving.
Even with new eateries popping up around the joint, the restaurant still comes up on top, with the soup’s most loyal fans even beating traffic and flying in from overseas just to eat it!
In the future, Nattapong’s daughter is set to take over when he retires. And if her children keep the family legacy going, who knows, maybe one day we’ll have a dish that’s edible forever.
Nadya Labiba is an Indonesian-Australian currently in her fourth year of Journalism and Languages and Cultures at University of Technology Sydney. Aside from interning at Captain Bagrat, Nadya is an avid community volunteer and a published contributor at Central News.