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TOPICS INCLUDE: Chinese repositories; Chinese Dietary Foundation; Indonesian Chinese food

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Winter Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(4) page(s): 12


From SUZANNE of des Moines:
Do you know any place that is a repository of things Chinese in the United States; I am most interested of course in materials culinary?
DEAR SUZANNE: As a subscriber, I assume that you read Alison Ryley''s article in the last issue about the New York Public Library. it is one of the better sources of Chinese cookbooks. The East-West Center in Hawaii is another. The Schlessinger Library at Radcliffe College in Cambridge Massachusetts is yet a third. None of these has more than five hundred cookery volumes. My own collection is the best known; seven hundred thrity-two volumes were annotated nearly ten years ago; and when time allows, I will do a revision of the almost two thousand I now own. Beyond cookery books, you can locate articles in many different indexes; there is even information on the Internet. Also, consult your local reference librarian for the best ways do search for materials. I suggest a computer search as a great way to start no matter your specific interest. Just remember that my experience is, that you''ll only locate about one-quarter to one-third of what is out there, no matter how you search. If you reread the Ryley article and begin searching, as she recommends, you are well on your way. Good luck!

From ROSE-MARIA of Waterville:
Can you tell me something about the ''Foundation of Chinese Culture'' in Hong Kong?
DEAR SUSAN: Though I tried, and made several long-distance telephone calls, sent several queries by FAX, and wrote a number of letters, no one knew of a group by that name in Hong Kong. However, I am very familiar with a 'Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture' in Taipei, Taiwan. I wonder if those are the folk you want to contact. The foundation in Taipei was founded in 1989 and is a private corporate body dedicated to the research, promotion, and continuance of Chinese dietary culture. Their main interests are in things ancient, though they are beginning to keep more recent materials. They also sponsor symposia, have given scholarships, and are subsidizing several academic publications (but not this one). A recent brochure I received indicated that they have eighteen thousand books about Chinese dietary. I do not know how many are in English. They also have periodicals, a thesis collection, and many newspaper clippings. You can reach them by writing to the Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture, 145 Chien Kuo N. Road, Section 2, Taipei, Taiwan or FAX them at 886-02-5057095 after the country code and any other necessary beginnings of your telephone system.

From LEN DU MIDI of Adorp, The Netherlands:
In the charter issue of ''Flavor and Fortune,'' you talk about Chinese culinary roots and Asian branches. Of the branches, one reads very little about Indonesia. May I tell you and your readers a little about their unusual marriage of Chinese and Dutch foods.
DEAR LEN: Your information follows and should be of great interest to our readers. You worte: "As a Dutch citizen, I was taught how the peoples of my country went to the East and how they discovered the East Indies. The VOC (East Indies Trade Company) brought many spices such as nutmeg, mace, and pepper to Europe. Pepper was very expensive; it became a currency. For over three centuries, the Dutch ruled the Indonesian Archipelago.
There are over thirteen thousand islands where on ehundred forty million inhabitants (four million of whom are Chinese) are living. The Chinese-Indonesian way of cooking is based upon Chinese origins and enriched by the vegetables and fruits of Indonesia. The influence of the Dutch is mainly shown in the ryst-tafel or rice-table, a vast variety of dishes and choices to accompany rice and noodle dishes. Generally, you may say that Indonesian-Chinese food is cooked-longer-simmered than Chinese foods; that oelakam is very important--to pulverize spices--and that the wok or what we call the wadjang, is the primary cooking vessel.
One of my favorite starters for a rice-table is called: Sunpia. This is a kind of a spring roll, as big as your thumb. To make it, you cut a spring-roll wrapper in half, make a filling of chopped meat stir-fried with a teaspoon of minced garlic, three tablespoons of ketjap manis which is a sweet and thick soy-type sauce, along with a little oil, and then you add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. This must cool for some minutes before you take a teaspoon of the meat mixture and roll it in a half-sheet of spring roll, turn in the sides, roll and then paste with a mite of egg white. It can be fried in shallow or deep fat until tinged with color and served with peanut sauce, or a Chinese sweet-sour sauce.
For the peanut sauce, I use two tablespoons peanut butter, some crushed garlic, a little lemon juice and chili paste, and salt and pepper to taste. I heat this mixture carefully, and add water if needed; or put it in a microwave oven for 20-30 seconds. I love to serve my Sunpia with a rose-tjendol. This is a cooled coconut-milk-drink made with rose water or syrup, coconut milk, and slices of coconut. Incidentally, Sunpia freezes well and can be kept for about three months.

                                                                                                                                                       
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