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TOPICS: Healthy eating; Ethnic foods; Winning restaurant; Pharmacopeia

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Summer Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(2) page(s): 10

Dietary pyramids abound. James Mellgren, in the Gourmet Retailer (3/96), tells about the Asian Diet Pyramid unveiled last December at an 'Oldways Preservation and Trust Conference' in San Francisco. The shape is like the food pyramid issued by the USDA. Both offer guidelines for how to eat, but this one differs from that of the USDA particularly about meat consumption. It places this food category at the top. It recommends eating meat only monthly, and if more often, then in smaller amounts.

The Asian Diet Pyramid places grain products at the base; eat them daily and in large amounts. Fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds sit atop this category of foods. They, too, should be consumed daily, but in slightly lesser amounts. Narrowing and next, are the vegetable oils. These are a necessary part of the daily dietary to be used in very small amounts. Fish and shellfish and/or dairy products are optional daily foods. If selecting items in the dairy category, low to moderate amounts are preferable as are products low in fat. Sweets, and eggs and poultry are near the peak; eat them weekly and in small amounts. Should you eat meat more often, as was said above, do so in small amounts. Alcoholic beverages and tea are in the Mellgren article and off to one side; the former consumed in moderation and with meals, the latter in amounts never mentioned.

A recent study, reported in Restaurant Hospitality, looks at the foreign foods consumers say they have tried. Chinese, specifically Cantonese, tied for first place with Italian and Mexican cuisines. Ninety percent of consumers queried tried these cuisines. Chinese, with no specific designation, is also listed a second time. Tried by seventy-three percent, its second appearance is in fifth place. Japanese but not sushi, tried by fifty-four of the responders, is in eighth and is the only other Asian cuisine among the top dozen. With Chinese listed twice, is it not the real first place winner?

The annual 'Ivy Awards' names the best and brightest foodservice providers, commercial and institutional. Barbara Tropp's 1930's era coffee shop turned restaurant, the China Moon Cafe, was one of a very select group of eight to be so honored. If you have ever been to San Francisco and tried her interpretations of classic Chinese dishes, I urge a trip. Just to savor that wonderful Noodle Pillow, probably a best-selling entree, is the best reason. I ate three and nothing else on my last visit there. For those who cannot go, try recipes from The China Moon Cafe (Workman, 1992); and The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking (Morrow, 1982), her first books are winners. Hope she does not wait another decade to publish a third book. For more winners, I recommend she open several restaurants across this country because I want those pillows closer to home.

Tea sales have skyrocketed. The Tea Council of the USA, based in New York, says that in 1994 sales more than doubled from 1.8 to 3.8 billion dollars. Green teas are not the only ones attracting attention. Dr. Zhi Yuan Wang of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York advises that black tea provides antioxidant, immune-modulating, and anticarcinogenic properties. In one experiment, both black and green teas inhibited skin-tumor irritation in mice after exposure to chemical carcinogens and ultra-violet light. As was said in an earlier issue of Flavor and Fortune, research continues and the results are not in, but do stay tuned.

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