But as my mission was dajiujia, I made my way to a restaurant I had heard about in the countryside called Jing Nong Zhuang, or “Golden Farm,” to meet with a local guide named Bing Li. The reason dajiujia is so famous, she told me, is its origin story. According to legend, in 1661, the emperor Zhu Youlang was fleeing from the Manchus and took refuge in the city. He arrived in Tengchong tired and hungry, and a cook quickly stir-fried some erkuai with the ingredients he had on hand. Zhu ate the dish gratefully and decreed it would be called “dajiujia,” or “saving the life of the emperor.” The recipe varies a bit from cook to cook, but it always includes pork, egg, tomatoes, and some kind of greens. The version served at the restaurant included fatty pork belly, egg, tomatoes, spinach, and sliced mushrooms. It was, indeed, a spectacular combination, but what was most striking to me was the texture of the erkuai itself. The slices were much denser and firmer than any I had had in other parts of Yunnan, without the springiness and tenderness I’d always been drawn to. Curious about the difference, and wanting to know more about how erkuai is produced today, I tracked down a small factory in the town of Dali, another center of erkuai production.