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TOPICS: Asian Restaurants; Food for winter; Swedish books; Chinese acculturation; Pu-er tea

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Winter Volume: 2004 Issue: 11(4) page(s): 31 and 38

ASIAN RESTUARANTS are growing, so is one source tracking them; and they have a database. They is Chinese Restaurant News, an arm of 'Smart Business Services, Inc. (SBS)' This publishing company has generated an American Asian Restaurant database, the most complete and current on the market. We saw summary results on page four of the August issue of their Chinese Restaurant News magazine. That Chinese-language monthly is mailed free to many of the Chinese restaurants in their count. Congratulations to them for compiling this wonderful resource.

The list we saw contains totals by state of more than sixty-one thousand Asian eateries in all fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. It includes them by Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and a grouping called Pan-Asian restaurants. How did they compile the list? They say by using the Yellow Pages, Business White Pages, domain name registrations, resources such as Chineseyellowpage.net and other resources.

The table they print shows almost sixty-two thousand Asian restaurants accounted for in all fifty states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The five states with the most Chinese restaurants, in decreasing order, are California, New York, Florida, Texas, and New Jersey. The numbers for these five states range from almost seven thousand to almost one thousand nine hundred Those locations with less than one hundred Chinese restaurants, from least to most, are Puerto Rico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont, and Arkansas.

In October, this innovative publisher began a new magazine titled Asian Restaurant News. That same month, with other sponsors such as the Bank of America, Fleet Bank, Nation’s Restaurant News, and many others, they put together an 'All Asia Food Expo' at the Javits Center in New York City. SBS will announce results of a write-in survey held called: The Top 100 Nominations of American Chinese Restaurants. Our next issue will advise about some of them and other exciting events highlighting Chinese restaurants.

FOOD for WINTER or cold weather in any season, and foods for other seasons are important to the Chinese who maintain traditional Chinese behaviors. These foods are used to replenish nutrients for spleen and stomach and are especially important when temperatures drop. The Chinese supplement their diet to promote additional blood cell formation at that time. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners believe that during cold weather people should eat food that moisturizes and increases qi. They suggest avoiding uncooked items because these might harm internal organs.

Foods recommended for when the weather is cold include beef, cinnamon, dates, ginseng, lamb, lotus seeds, and white wine. Those to avoid include all cold temperature foods such as cold or even room temperature fruits, hair sea vegetable, mint, mung beans, persimmon, and snails, clams, crab, and conch.

SWEDISH BOOKS about Chinese health perspectives are in short supply. Not much good material can be found in this or other Nordic languages. We lived in Sweden for a year and learned this first-hand. Recently, our desk was graced with a valuable paperback published by Akupunkturakademin and authored by Peter Torsel. Called Kinesisk Kostlära, it was published four years ago, its ISBN is 91-630-9136-4. Information and how to get a copy, if you taler Svenska (speak Swedish), is at www.akupunkturakademin.se

The book grounds the reader in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lists foods not just hot and cold, but also warm, neutral, and cool, and in the first seventy-plus pages offers detail about TCM, meals, beverages and tobacco, After these come one hundred fifty more pages about individual foods and their roles, functions, uses, etc. The book ends with food tastes, lists of organs and illnesses, an alphabetic food list, excellent references in English and Swedish, and a detailed cross-referenced index, Flavor and Fortune not included. We hope in the next edition that is rectified.

CHINESE ACCULTURATION means immigrants eating more foods in all food groups. They eat fewer traditional Chinese foods the longer they live in the United States. This is true for all Chinese, even though they are culturally and linguistically very diverse. For more information on one of the newest research items on this topic, read about dietary change and acculturation of Chinese Americans in the May 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 104, Number 5, pages 771-778 by Nan Lv and Katherine Cason.

PU-ER TEA, China Tourism, an English-language monthly published by the Hong Kong China Tourism Press, advises in a recent issue that this tea is not grown in Pu-er County in the Yunnan Province. They says it actually comes from other Yunnan regions including Xishangbanna, Simao, and Lincang. They write that it is gathered in these places then sold in the county of Pu-er.

That article calls pu-er tea the ‘King of Teas” and argues that the older the leaves, the better the tea. For more about what this magazine called 'Yunnan’s Winning Tea,' consult Flavor and Fortune’s Volume 10 (1) on pages 23 and 24. Also, read about this tea enjoyed at the Lai Wah Heen restaurant in Toronto, Canada. That was in this magazine’s Volume 6(3) on page 8.

Liu Jun, who wrote the article in China Tourism, advises that Pu-er tea was astronomically expensive on a recent trip, came in rectangular, cylindrical, spherical, and even gourd-shaped packages, and that it was used as a tribute to royalty during the Qing Dynasty (whose dates are 1616 - 1911 CE). Several sources we consulted say the Qing Dynasty did not begin until 1644.

The Liu Jun article refers to a farmer keeping tea biscuits in his attic for a few years before selling them, and advising the longer they are kept the darker the tea becomes, and the better it tastes. Tea biscuits, it goes on, are made putting the leaves in a special pot for steaming, then after a few minutes when softened, they are put into a cotton bag and sealed. This bag is flattened and pressed further and then the tea is dried in the sun. This makes tea called 'Qing Fresh Biscuit.' Other techniques make 'Shou Well-done Biscuit,' and other Pu-er varieties.

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