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TOPICS INCLUDE: About Michael Gray's visit; The Cleaver Quarterly; Kosher Chinese eater; Wood ear fungi; Bread and Mutton Soup; Potatoes in Dongbei; Grinding grains; Tongue, a family favorite; Missing issues; Millet, a very early grain

by Jacqueline M. Newman

LETTERS to the EDITOR

Fall Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(3) pages: 5 to 7


DEAR EDITOR:
We went to the places Michael Gray wrote about in a past issue, and did adore the two we visited. E-PIE is a tiny take-out window almost at the corner of Main Street; and it surely is worth a visit. As three families we almost bought them out and took home sacks of their pies, some meats, too. The aromas in our car were so tempting we ate half our purchases on the way home. At NEW GOLDEN SZECHUAN on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, we learned this restaurant is not new. Our eldest child, age fourteen, said after we walked in, “we were here before.” We went because a friend had told us their hotpots were great, and they were. The owner said he opened in the 1980s; our eldest said that was before he was born. FAT BOY HOMESTYLE COOKING was one we did not get to but will soon. Please thank Mr Gray and tell him we hope he returns to Flushing and to this magazine; we do miss him!
DEAR READER: Thank you for encouraging Mr. Gray, we, too, miss him and hope he comes back to New York often to try and taste many of the Chinese restaurants and dishes here. Sorry you did not tell us your name. We want to advise you and all writers to identify themselves or in the future we will not print their letters. Yours is here because someone else in your group called with a question and asked if we had received your letter. They said they agreed with the thoughts in it and hoped it would be printed.

Dear NEW-MAN from ALT-MAN:
Please review the Clever Quarterly so we can learn about its contents, and when and how to subscribe.
OLD MAN, REALLY? Bet your age is not old in years, just in functioning in brutal winter weather. The first issue of that quarterly was Summer 2014. The second, Autumn the same year. The most recent issue was Winter 2014. Each is an eighty page volume with about sixteen articles. That many was in the first one, fourteen in the second, and seventeen in the last one. All were fun to read, the topics did vary, and the art work fascinated. Editor Jonathan White, managing editor Lilly Chow, and Art Director Ru Brown enticed us to subscribe, and we did. Printed in Beijing by Jingjin, we recommend its website at www.thecleverquarterly.com for pces, and what they plan fr the future at www.thecleaverquarterly.com/buy Ask about international postage, they ship from the UK
.

FROM MIRA in MIDDLETOWN:
There are some kosher Chinese restaurants near here, but not particularly good ones. Does the rest of this state (Outside of manhattan) have god Kosher Chinese eateries for dim sum that we might visit and eat at?
MIRA New York is one of eight states in the United States with the largest number of Chinese restaurants, only California has more. After them, in decreasing order are Chinese restaurants in: Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, and New Jersey. As to the ‘best ones’ kosher or not, eaters are the final judge; so we suggest you tell us your opinions. New York has eleven percent of the country’s Chinese restaurants, less than seven percent of the Chinese people live in this state, and it is where the largest number of Chinese restaurants exist outside of China. It and California also have the largest Jewish populations.

FROM GINNEE in Woodstock:
Thank you for the information about wood ear fungi. If I recall correctly, you did have some issues and information about all fungi a while back. My family thanks you for this magazine and all you have written about early Chinese food history.
GINNEE: Many request mushroom material. Wood ear and others are known for the large amounts of umami; so do tomatoes. No wonder so many love both. We suggest you and others go to our index listings and check out which issues have one or more articles about popular mushroom used in Chinese cuisine. There are many others, too.>br>.

FROM RUAN in XIAN:
Can you share something about Bread and Mutton Soup eating in Xian? Also,do you know how old it is and when it was first in use there?
RUAN: Bread and Mutton Soup has been available in Xian at least since 757 BCE. There is a story about the army quelling a rebellion there during the Tang Dynasty. After that, some soldiers were allowed to move to and live in Chang’An, the city we now call Xian. That was thanks to the emperor. When you go to that city, eat your soup with some bread torn into it and call it wutang. If no liquid is left in your bowl when done it is said to be koutang. If only a mouthful of liquid is left, then call it shui weicheng. If one leaves over more soup than solids, the fourth name for leftovers is danzou; and that means the bread left over is no more than the liquid in your bowl. Those names are what the soldiers used. You will sound like someone who knows local customs as you thank the restaurant for you soup using which ever name s closest to what is left in your bowl. Bet you will be loved as the soldiers were.

FROM SHEESH in INDIA:
You do write a lot about foods in Dongbei. We just returned from a tour that went too many of their cities. We had a wonderful shredded potato dish made with pickled mustard greens, the knobby kind seen in Chinese supermarkets. I bough one last week and it was sour, piquant, and perfect. Can you provide recipes for a whole stuffed cabbage? We had one surrounded by potato shreds?
SHESH: Hope the first two recipes below and others published in this magazine bring back fond memories of your recent trip.

FROM MILES:
Do you know when the Chinese or any Asians learned to grind grains into flour?
MILES: Some things our ancestors did may tell us they were wiser than we give them credit for. New research suggests this is one of them hey ground dried plants at east twenty thousand years ag, and while leftover bone pieces last longer than small plant pieces, we know this because Dr. Revedin and her colleagues found seed grindings on tools from early days in use in Australia. The grindings were of dried roots, stems, and leaves dating thousands of years ago. We met Oser Bar-Ysef in China, an archeologist from Harvard University specializing in the Sone Age. He said it does not shock him, nor Steven Kuhn from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He said grindings were found early and in several places in Australia and Europe dating from Neolithic times. That says they and the Chinese were grinding gains in those days, maybe even in earlier times.

FROM MAO LAO in BEIJING:
My husband’s grandmother makes a family favorite. Your article about tongue inspired the family to get together and make it and see if we could convince you to publish our recipe. Hope you do not need much convincing as everyone in our family, myself included, loves it.
MAO LAO: Your wish is our command.

DEAR EDITOR:
Where is my Spring Issue? Please replace it as it was never received.
WING LEE: We sincerely apologize to you and to all subscribers whi did not get that issue on time. Please read page 4 for a more thorough explanation. By now we are sure that it has arrived; and we warn you of another problem due to an error at the printers. Both were beyond our control and both were a frustration for all subscribers; for us, too!

DEAR NIKKI in PORTLAND:
You rarely write about millet yet as far as I know, it was an important and very early staple crop in China. It may still be important. Is credit really given for its domestication to Shen Nong, China's legendary emperor? Can you share some things about this food item?
NIKKI: Yes, this grain is one of the most ancient of all cereals. This staple food was found as burned seeds in Northern China at Cishan abour 500 BCE. It was also found as noodles in Neolithic archeological sites such as at Lajia in Northwestern China. There, noodles as dough, were stretched then put in boiling water. In one place, we read it was foxtail millet, a variety said to be the hardiest of all grains. This small annual seed was fund along with broomtail millet, both used for noodles at one excavation site. These have recently been dated as four thousand plus years old. Incidentally, millet went form China to Europe about 5000 BCE.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United nations tells us that China is now the fourth largest millet producer, India the world’s largest. As to current use, we wonder why it is not more popular these days because this food has no gluten and gluten-free foods are big sellers. The Chinese most often prepare this starchy grain as congee, with or without sweet potatoes, beans, or other vegetables. Incidentally, millet is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, and has lots of Vitamin A, and many B vitamins, and a goodly amount of protein. We invite you to make it one of your favorite breakfast food providing a recipe for you to do so. We invite you to add other meats and vegetables to it to enhance your breakfasts.

Look for it in you grocers or supermarket as flour, flakes, or as the grain itself. In China, it was the first grain seed to be used making alcohol, and the Chinese called it xia mi. Traditional thinking is that it helps nourish the yin. Strengthen the spleen, aid the liver and blood, and is very good for the ill and the elderly. We know not why, but a recipe for millet is rare in any Chinese cookbook even though it is the most common food eaten at home for a Chinese breakfast. Incidentally, research still debates whether the Chinese, the Italians, or the Arabs invented noodles first. We know the Chinese did stretch wet ground millet flour into long thin or thick strands of dough, then boil them as one does noodles or pasta, and they eat millet congee for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                       
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