TThe Kitchen God, we are told, was once a wealthy farmer named Zhang who fell for a concubine at the expense, literally, of his dutiful wife. (In another version, he is a poor farmer who must sell his wife to pay off debt). Both versions of the story end with Zhang in a fallen state, his wife taking pity on and caring for him. Zhang, feeling humbled by her selfless devotion, jumps into the fiery hearth whereupon his ashes fly up toward heaven; the Jade Emperor appoints him Zao Jun, the Kitchen God, who descends from heaven at the end of the year to report on each family’s behavior. How exactly this Zhang qualifies for such a post is not clear to me: he was either a rich guy who wanted two women but failed to keep them happy, or a pimping husband. Of course, the storytellers are able to praise his wife’s piety, but it’s the farmer who heaven rewards.
I wanted to write a post about my latest attempt in the kitchen (see photo above for evidence) — but instead, you’ve only got this desultory ditty. I’m sorry.
I am not the Kitchen God’s wife.