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Soup For The Qan, A (translation of Hu Szu-Hui's book titled in Chinese as: Yin Shan Cheng-Yao)
by: Hu Sihui, a Chinese court medical practitioner
translation by Paul D. Buell and Eugene N. Anderson
Kegan Paul International 2000, Hardbound
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(3) pages: 18 to 19
Known as Hu Zheng Qi Huei, a court medical practitioner now considered a Chinese dietitian, lived during the Yuan Dynasty (1279 to 1368 CE) which is also known as the Mongol Dynasty. Best known for his book, Yinshan Zhengyao or the Important Principles of Food and Drink, that volume became a classic in both Chinese medicine and Chinese cuisine.
Hu was a mongol official in the Ministry of Court Supplies and Provisions. He latter became the therapist of the Empress Dowager and was given the rank of Chief Imperial Therapist. As such, he was responsible for all foods and beverages served to the Emperor and his entire family.
The purpose of his book was to share information for those preparing their food. He wanted to keep the emperor and his entourage from getting sick. He wanted to assure they would eat properly. This book, the first dietary manual in Chinese history, includes Mongolian, Turkic, and Islamic foods and shows their influences in the Chinese dietary. It shows folks today that Mongol and other ethnic cuisines were part of the Chinese culinary years ago.
Chinese court cuisine was a mixture of foods liked by Mongol people, Chinese people, Turkish people, and the members of the Chinese court. This book was presented to the emperor in 1330, and was known as YSCY by the people of the day, and by some now, too.
It shows that broad East Asian foodways were in use during the time it was written and that broad interactions existed between Chinese and non-Chinese cultures. This YSCY was used for many years and does show what foods were prepared for the Emperor and his court should he no longer be able to tend sate affairs. The author states that many diseases are caused by improper diet, and many can be cured by proper eating. He was the first Chinese to sat this.
The main medical thoughts in this YSCY include eating in moderation, using variety in one's diet, and proper hygiene and food storage, and using special diets for pregnant women and children. His is the first book to describe how some diseases can be connected to dietary deficiencies. This was also the first book in China to emphasize food poisoning and the problems that caused.
The purpose of this English translation by Paul Buell who has a PhD from the University of Washington and Eugene N. Anderson who has one from Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts; and Charles Perry who did the Appendix has his degree from the University of California, Berkeley. It helps those studying and writing about the food and the dietary of his era. It has made a significant contribution to all studies of this period. It shows strong relationships to Han and Mongolian foods, also to Turkic and Persian ones; and it is an important contribution of all foods of Eurasia.
There are two examples from this very extensive volume that can be found on Wikipedia, one called Wolf Soup, the other Deboned Chicken Morsels. This seven hundred fifteen page translation has them and health information and recipes.
There are some pictures of its original pages on page 19 in their translation. The English name is:A Soup for the Qan. It was published by Kegan Paul International in 2000 in London, and republished in 2010 in Leiden by Brill in a revised edition. The two recipes that follow were published in Flavor and Fortune on page 19 with some added information; and are in the style of this magazine.
Mutton leg, boned and cut up
5 Tsaoko cardamons
Chick peas, half a sheng, pulverized and their skins removed
1. Boil ingredients as a soup, strain the broth, set the meat aside.
2. Cut mutton into qima. Cut up each of the following: One sheep's heart, one sheep's liver, a set of sheep's lungs, two liang of sprouting ginger, four liang of pickled ginger, one liang of sweet melon pickles, ten carrots, nine chin of Chinese yams, one cheese, and ten eggs fried into an omelet. Then fry everything together using one chin of sesame paste. Add everything to the soup, adjust the flavors with onions, salt, and vinegar.
* The original says it supplements the center and increases Qi.
Large carp, one
Adzuki beans, one ho
Prepared mandarin orange peel,two chien, their white removed
Chinese flower pepper, to chien
Tsaoko cardamon, two
1. To ingredients, add five spices and favor evenly, then cook.
2. When done eat on an empty stomach.
* The original says it cures diabetes and edema, jaundice, and foot Qi.