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TOPICS INCLUDE: Shi Zi Bing, Eating Zodiac, Pork, Confucius, Boba (bubble) Tea,
Letters to the Editor
Fall Volume: 2017 Issue: 24(3) page(s): 5
You need to know ‘shi zi bing’ are persimmon cakes
from the city of Xian. A recipe for them and more
is at: www.travelchinaguide.com/tour/food/chinesecooking/
Harley: Thank you for this information. This
magazine’s readers and I appreciate it because as you
know, only one recipe for this fruit did cross our desk
before. We have been to Xian three times, always in
either late spring or summer. We have never seen nor
tasted them. Truthfully, we did not even know they
existed. In addition, we never saw a recipe for them
in the thousands of Chinese cookbooks in English we
donated to Stony Brook University’s Special Collections.
We hope to eat them in Xian if we go when they are in
season. Until then, we will try to make them next Fall
or Winter. Be advised that we research and write all
articles, including this one, more than six months before
publication: they are not in season now.
From sue-Lu in Idaho:
Do the Chinese eat any of the animals that are in
their zodiac; and when did they start naming them?
Sue-Lu: The Chinese eat them all except for the dragon
which is a mythical animal. You can read about the twelve
Chinese Han zodiac animals, and find recipes for every one
but the above mythical one, that is for the rat, ox, tiger,
rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog,
and the pig that some call a boar. After a twelve year cycle,
these twelve years begin again with the rat, and the Chinese
believe that a complete cycle is five of the twelve years, or
sixty years all together. Many Chinese minority populations
have the same and/or other animals in their zodiac. The
legend we read said these years began before measuring
time many centuries ago, and that the Jade Emperor
decided on a race to name these years with all animals in
his kingdom invited to his birthday party. He decreed that
all animals needed to cross a swift river current and get
to a designated spot on the other shore That legend said
the cat and the rat were good friends at that time, both the
worst swimmers, so they jumped on the back of the ox. The
rat was crafty and pushed the cat into the river before they
got to the other side. When the ox got there, the rat jumped
off and ran to the designated spot and cleverly claimed first
place. The rabbit told the Emperor he thought he would win
because he jumped from stone to stone. The pig who came
in last told the emperor he stopped to eat as he was hungry,
also exhausted after his difficult swim.
You once said the main meat Chinese eat is pork, do
you know how much each person eats a year?
Sid: We recently read that Chinese each eat eighty-seven
pounds of pork every year. Also learned half the
pork consumed in the world is eaten by Chinese people.
RhoNa of Los Angeles:
Heard that Confucius told what knowledge really was.
Where is that quote? Also, which cooking methods
did he think were Yin and which were Yang?
RhoNa: What he said that we think you mean has
nothing to do with food. We think you mean what he
said about ‘real knowledge’ was that ‘real knowledge is to
know the extent of one’s ignorance.’ As to your second
question about culinary qualities, we found nothing that
Confucius said about that. He did say lots about cutting
food. Cooking techniques with yin qualities include
boiling, steaming, and poaching, those with yang ones
include deep-frying, roasting, and stir-frying.
From Jai Lee in
We live south in Taiwan and
in the countryside. I have
never seen boba tea, can you
tell us about it.
Jai Lee: You may know
this boba tea as bubble tea,
so named for the usually black
cassava bubbles; that sink to
its bottom. There are a few
companies making theirs in
assorted colors, though as of
the moment we have no color
picture of them. This hot or cold
tea can be had in many flavors,
and with or without milk in it.
Now very popular in the US,
it was first was popularized in
your country in the 1980s.