Mao shi hongshao rou — red-braised pork, Mao's style — is closely associated both with the former Chairman and his first home, Hunan.
Though that province is renowned for fiery food, hongshao rou has a sweeter character. Pork belly is slow-cooked with soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar, and further seasoned at the discretion of the chef. Ginger, garlic, chili peppers, and star anise are common; my serving contained a small chip of what I believe was cassia bark.
Hongshao rou requires too much work to be conveniently prepared by a mobile kitchen, and Mao surely would have missed it during his year-plus Long March through mountainous western China. Myself, I enjoyed a leisurely indoor meal, beginning with a cup of tomato-and-egg soup (included with the lunch special, $4.75), while puzzling out the names of the show tunes playing softly in the background. One, a wistful saxophone solo, is forever linked with another mountain trek: Edelweiss.
Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
42-47 Main St. (Franklin-Blossom Aves.), Flushing, Queens