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About: Holiday and other books and places to find them; Herbal resources

by Jacqueline M. Newman


Winter Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(4) page(s): 13 and 14

This article, in the hard copy, was titled: Resources for Children and Adults. Cookbooks for either of them can be difficult to locate. Hardly a week goes by that someone does not write to ask where to purchase one or find something in a particular book. This type of query seems to be growing faster than any other. While we do love the mail you send, and we really do enjoy responding, concern exists about maintaining a timely response rate. We particularly enjoy questions that send us to our own book collection. Speaking of that collection, if you own or know of any pamphlets with Chinese recipes in them, please contact the editor who is writing an updated annotated bibliography of all Chinese cookery materials in the English language. You can do so using the website www.flavorandfortune.com as an easy way, or use this magazine's mail or fax.

We are pleased that the web site is growing, albeit in a slow but timely manner. Quite a few articles from out-of-print issues are there and accessed daily. Records indicated twenty thousand plus, and counting. There are also many, many book reviews on the website. We add a few each week but do not plan posting articles from any issue in the past few years, that is not until back-issue supplies run out; and that might be soon.

Many recent questions were where to get Chinese cookbooks for children. Some of these were from families who adopted one or more Chinese children. They want, as do others, information about various foods, ways to celebrate Chinese holidays, and places to purchase books, videos, and other things Chinese. To answer a large number of them or you, the reader, and for others--here are some helpful children’s books, some bookstores that specialize in them and in volumes about things Chinese; also some catalogues that tout Chinese books and other items.

Books about holidays include a golden oldie called Door To Chinese Festivals-Feasts-Fortunes by Anita Jones (Taipei, Taiwan: Mei Ya Publications, 1971). It is still a winner in more ways than one because proceeds from this book about New Year, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Ching Ming and the Moon Festival go to the Taipei YWCA. There are lovely illustrations by Jack Fang, a section about feasts that discusses planning a Chinese meal; and there is an ingredient list, cutting techniques, chopstick use, types of tea, and how to drink it and wine. This thirty-year-old volume has information about rice, noodles, and other foods, has several recipes, and a section about fortunes and each of the twelve animal years. It is one of our favorites.

In a wonderful Festival Cookbook series, get the Chinese Festivals Cookbook by Stuart Thompson and Angela Dennington (London: White-Thompson/Hodder Wayland, 2000; ISBN 0-7502-2632-3). The illustrations by Tim Mayer delight as do the pages about festivals, food, and firecrackers. Chapters, with gorgeous photographs, are about New Year, Dragon Boat, and Mid-Autumn festivals, and each includes a few recipes. There are also book, audio, and web site resources. In this little gem.

Take pleasure in Mooncakes and Hungry Ghosts by Carol Stepanchuk and Charles Wong (San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, 1991; ISBN 0-8351-7481-9). Subtitled: Festivals of China, this book details many celebrations for the living, even some for the dead including the Clear Brightness Festival and the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts. Ever wonder about romance, compassion, survival, and marriage Chinese style? You can learn how the Chinese celebrate them, the earth, water, wind, and fire. There are also ways Chinese minority populations celebrate their festivals. The book ends with the Chinese calendar, celebrations and symbols, and a multi-page bibliography of additional resources.

Children’s books that tell heartwarming tales about food and cooking and life-cycle events are please. A favorite is about an American girl and her Chinese-American friend. Check out: Almond Cookies and Dragon Well Tea by Cynthia Chin-Lee (Chicago: Polychrome Publishing Company, 1993; ISBN 1-879965-0308). Lovingly illustrated by You Shan Tang, some proceeds from this volume are donated to projects promoting cultural diversity. Henry’s First-Moon Birthday by Lenore Look (New York: Atheneum, 2001; ISBN 0-689-82294-4) is another gem. Illustrated by Yumi Heo, in it you discover details about a Chinese child’s one month birthday celebration.

In A World of Recipes: China by Julie McCulloch (Crystal Lake IL: Heinemann, 2001) with illustrations by Nicholas Beresford-Davies; the food looks so delicious you wish it would jump off the page and into your mouth. As it does not oblige, follow the simple recipes and put it there yourself.

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001; ISBN 0-375-81082-X) is a small tykes dream, an excellent choice for the littlest ones. It describes many little dishes served on a visit to Chinatown and tells its readers what Mama likes, Baba (father) likes, sisters choose, and what the heroine loves. We love the author’s drawings including those on the insides covers. The tyke on the front cover is so luscious you want to hug her as you read about yum cha or taking tea; and as the title says, 'dim sum is for everyone!' A children’s book catalogue helps when selecting books for young folk of all ages. We marvel every time we read the one called Shen’s Books. It tells about hundreds of them because Maywan Shen Krach offers dozens upon dozens of children’s books that just feature holidays and festivals around the world. It also has books about coming to America, getting along in America, and adopting interracial children. This resource has tales for and about children and young adults in China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Russia, and Mexico and Latin America, There are a few items called ‘translated literature’ in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Khmer, Korean, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Tagalong. Check out all of its offerings on its website at www.shens.com or request a printed catalogue by calling 800/456-6660.

Book stores and catalogues that feature things Chinese certainly are marvelous resources for gifts for children and adults, even for yourself. They are wonderful places to shop for videos and other media items. We have listed some of our favorites; in alphabetic order. Locate them in person, on the web, or by phone. We find them valuable resources and hope you do, too, when searching for information about China and the multi-cultural populations that live there. They are resources about China’s various religions and philosophical teachings, places to learn herbal and health information, and so much more.

This list is but a starting point. Use it and the web materials featured in Flavor and Fortune's Volume 7(1) on pages 17 and 18. Beyond books and media, do not forget to look for magazines and journals. They have many as do libraries with extensive gastronomic or Chinese materials, and other commercial sources; some of which were printed in Flavor and Fortune's Volume 7(2) on pages 11 and 30. And, when you find ones we have neglected, tell us about them. In the meantime, please keep in mind two things. The first is that Flavor and Fortune does not guarantee the products that they recommend. The second is, when thinking of gifts, a subscription to this magazine can many a person happy! And now to other sources for books, etc.:
China Books and Periodicals, Inc. at 2929 Twenty-fourth Street in San Francisco CA 94110, they can be reached at 415/282-2994 and the fax is 415/282-0994
East Wind Bookstore at 2066 University Avenue in Berkeley, California 94704. Their phone is 510/548-2350, the fax 3697, and their website is: www.ewbb.com
Great Wall Bookstore at 412 12th Avenue S. #204 in Seattle, WA 98144. Their phone is 206/726-8688, their fax 8871, and their website is www.chinesemall.com/greatwall
Redwing Book Company at 44 Linden Street in Brookline MA 02445. Their phone is 800/873-3946, their fax 617/738-4620, and their website is www.redwingbooks.com
World Journal Bookstores can be visited after searching them out in telephone directories in most major east and west coast cities. For instance, New York City has three of them, one in Manhattan, another in Brooklyn, and a third in Flushing Queens (212/966-7750, 718/871-5000, and 718/445-2661, respectively).

Now for gifts and other information, most herbal, we suggest consulting three informational resources we use, among others. We remind you that the Chinese consider herbs as traditional medicine and because they are medicines, do consult qualified medical personnel for additional information before using them. Appearances here is not an endorsement of their products, just a suggestion of places to go for information. And, do read about an herbal recall appearing after these catalogue resources and a commentary by a respected herbal dealer. They appear below.
Chinese Herbs, is a catalogue that provides a source of herbal and other books, some about calligraphy and horoscopes, others culinary. It has herbal, food, equipment, and other products from China. They can be reached by phone is 800/258-6878, fax is 800/258-1384, or by using their website: www.eastearthtrade.com
Qi, another catalogue that is a product of Insight Publishing. It has herbals, books, a few food items, and some equipment in this catalogue. They can be contacted at PO Box 18476 in Anaheim Hills, CA 92817, by phone at 800/787-2600, ob by using their website: www.qi-journal.com
Herbs for Health is a six-time-a-year magazine of the Herb Companion Press. They, too, have a website www.discoverherbs.com and it offers additional educational materials, reviews books and provides other information.

An herbal alert, as promised. Another herbal recall this past June 2001 which does not affect all vendors of Asian products is one you need to know about. Several popular Chinese medicines distributed in the United States were recalled. They were believed to contain a plant chemical linked to kidney damage and cancer. According to the United States’ government’s Food and Drug Administration, the recalled items all contained aristolochic acid, a known carcinogen.

An herbal resource: Timothy Chuang, owner of the New York Tung Ren Tang, an herbal emporium at 40-34 Main Street in Flushing, NY was quoted in a major New York paper as saying “There’s a huge difference between the Chinese-made herbal medicines and American-made herbal products.” He also reminded everyone that many people “think the more you use of Chinese herbals, the more you get the better. That’s wrong.” Do take care, beware, and consult professionally trained medical personnel before using any herbal item or any medicine; and do use every herbal and every medicine as directed.

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