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Biltong and Bo Xilai

BILTONG

Biltong, a cured meat with South African origins, has been on the tongues of Chinese over the past week. Bo Xilai, the charismatic former Mayor of Chongqing, was on trial for corruption, and during the proceedings, which ended today, testimony from his estranged wife Gu Kailai referred to a mysterious meat that could be eaten raw and kept for a month. It was reportedly brought back from an undetermined African country by the couple’s son, Bo Guagua. According to the Wall Street Journal, father and son disagreed about how to best prepare it:

In her testimony, Ms. Gu said she remembered one gift Bo Guagua brought back from Africa. “I remember clearly what he bought for Xilai—a big chunk of meat of a very rare animal,” she said. “I can’t remember what animal it was but Guagua said it should be eaten raw.

“Xilai said it has to be steamed first,” she continued. “Guagua was very angry and said ‘you’ll ruin it and it was a very expensive piece of meat,’ but eventually it was steamed.”

She added, “We ate that meat for more than a month.”

The mysterious meat, “from a very rare animal,” captured the imaginations of China’s social media users, and became one of the most talked about aspects of the trial. It was also dissected by a number of media reports, many of which came to the verdict that the meat was in fact biltong. Chinese visitors to South Africa are said to have a taste for it, particularly when spiced with chilli. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know if Bo Guagua actually visited South Africa. We do know that he took a charter flight from Dubai to Kenya, to see Kilimanjaro, and that the trip was paid for by the billionaire Xu Ming, who was closely connected to the family. The verdict is still out on whether or not biltong was steamed for the first time by the Bo family.

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