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TOPICS INCLUDE: About this magazine; Five Classics and Four Books; Bai lady needs responses; Flushing NY; Chinese take-out containers; Medical therapy; Osmanthus flower colors

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Winter Volume: 2012 Issue: 19(4) page(s): 7 - 9 and 14

Congratulations for "the couple of hundred items" that educated her about the Chinese cuisine.
We offer a correction. And have commentary after the initial listing of items in Flavor and Fortune's first nineteen years. Overall there were: 77 issues of Flavor and Fortune to date;
916 pages published;
733 articles;
457 short non-article-length items;
420 books reviewed;
245 restaurants reviewed worldwide, and
more than 1500 recipes.

In total, we have published more than 3,250 items.

Why an odd number of issues? Because in the first year there was only one issue. It was printed in blue, not black as requested, and smaller than asked for. Therefore, we reorganized, hired a better liason for better control, and leanred as we went forward. We improved the look and the cntent of this unique Chinese food magazine, and received awards for same. Since then, we have published almost one thousand pages of targeted information about Chinese cuisine written by more than one hundred different authors. They and everyone works probono to advise and educate about this, the world's longest continuous cuisine; so we thank you for your congratulations, but clearly it is lots more than a couple of hundred items.

To see all that is there, the index for Flavor and Fortune is on its website at www.flavorandfortune.com and we have grouped the articles and listed tem by category; one can also get them by date, author, title, etc. They are not yet indexed if in the Letterrs to the Editor, Newman's News and Notes, and Michael's Musings columns. These are listed in Table of Contents pages but not yet by category or in any index. We plan to do this in one of the upcomin issues in this, the magazine's 20th year.

This magazine has, as readers have said, "longer history than many others, probably the longest about a food culture outside its own country." We cannot vouch for that, but do know that about two hundred articles are more than just individual Chinese foods, a handful include up to three foods, and more than one food best known only in China. There have been more than twenty-five articles about food as health, herbs, and/or medicine; some forty-five about Chinese food in the USA and Canada, ten about Chinese food in other Asian countries, ten about Chinese food in Central and South America, fifteen about Chinese food in Europe or the Middle East, and four about Chinese food in Australia and New Zealand. To continue counting, there were eleven articles about equipment and techniques nineteen about Chinese holidays and celebrations, and an equal number about individual people.

For more specifics, do as we did and see or print out entire lists by article, author, or another heading from this magazine;s index listings on this website. If you print them all, you will need close to a ream of paper. You will be amazed as we were! After seeing what has been published, that might provide you with ideas for things not yet written about, things that need updating, those that could benefit from more depth, its. Send us that and we will than you in advance for providing this information. That will be a challenge for the staff who, as we said, do work pro bono!

From all at F&F, the editor included, many thanks for your continued support as we continue to print Flavor and Fortune on heavy glossy paper providing fine quality and the best information we can locate about the Chinese cusine.

READERS ASK: about the very early books known as 'The Five Classics' and 'The Four Books.'
HERE IS A CLARIFICATION: The first literal handful are The Five Ching, the others, The Four Shu. Tradition tells us the first set were edited by Confucius. The others are also known as The Books of the Four Philosophers. In these volumes, are words, poems, and thoughts about life, food too. They are:
1. The Book of Changes which in Chinese is the I Ching is the oldest volume. It contains divinations based upon the sixty-four hexagrams, and dates from the late Chou preiod or pre-1000 BCE, with some of its sections later.
2. The Book of Historical Documents which is in Chinese, the Shi Ching, dates pre-1000 BCE, that is before Confucius. It is early Chinese history from Emperor Yao (circa 2350 - 2250 BCE).
3. The Book of Odes is in Chinese, the Shi Ching. It is a group of ancient poems and songs giving views of the philosophical and structural world at this time (circa 900 - 6 BCE).
4. The Book of Rites in Chinese is the Li Chi was compiled during early Han times (circa 207 BCE - 9 CE). It includes calendars, duties, and details of the court and their officials.
5. The Annals of Spring and Autumn in Chinese is the Chun Chiu, and is another listing of events, said to be written by Confucius some time circa 722 - 481 BCE.
6. The Analects of Confucius or the Lun Yu in Chinese, is a compilation of conversations by his disciples (circa 450 BCE) with many of his sayings/teachings.
7. The Great Study or Ta Hsueh in Chinese is said to be by Tseng Shen, a disciple of Confucius. Not all agree, it may be by a pupil of Mencius.
8. The Doctrine of the Mean or the Chung Yung in Chinese, is said to be written by King Chi, a grandson of Confucius, circa the 3rd or 4th Century BCE.
9. Master Meng or in Chinese, the Meng Tzu is the works of Mencius (circa 4th century BCE), and is the fullest defense of Confucian ideas on things public and personal.
Note: All above are spelled as given in their earliest transliterations.

From ELIHU in Pa via e-mail:
Hope you do get some answers for the Bai lady so she can pass her heritage on to her children. Many Bai live in both the old and new cities of Dali, but I wonder if you can find out what makes their Old Dali Dengchuan Rushan or Milk Fan so luscious? Also, can you learn and share how they make Dali Shaguoyu, their potted fish, and give us at least one vegetable recipe that is very simple and one for their pea jelly?
ELIHU: We are working on getting answers to her questions, and you and she need to be patient. We have begun to succeed because our China correspondent, Wang Si, who studies this minority population has sent an article for this issue, on page 5, and with some recipes; she does want to learn and share more and is working on that. In the meantime, allow us to answer your many questions. We know that in Dali, fresh milk is mixed with yogurt to make milkfan. We read an article a few years back that reminded of our grandmother making thick cream leaving it on her windowsill to thicken. The article we read about milkfan said to make it from thick milk left on the kitchen table for hours, no exact number given, before readying it for milkfan. As to Fishpot Dali-style, locals use carp from the Erhai Lake. They put it into a ceramic pot in layers, first pork, then ham, next chicken, then mushrooms, magnolia petals, doufu, carrots, and cabbage, each one sprinkling salt on top then adding the next one, the fish the very last. These ingredients are cooked at a low temperature for a long time, however, we never read how much of any of the ingredient, nor how long to cook it. Bet it should be covered. The recipes that follow are Bai and thanks to Wang Si.

From NANCY in Westchester NY:
I get to Flushing about once a month, fewer times to Chinatown in Manhattan. My folks tell me the latter is a shell of what they knew when they were my age. Should I be making more of an effort to get there; and if so, why? Is the Seitsma article in the Village Voice about a year ago about enough places to make trips to all of them worth doing?
NANCY: That article is from the second week in August, 2011. More than a dozen places are mentioned, many more missed that are worth trekking to. You seem to know only two of the five Chinatown areas in The Big Apple. Manhattan is the oldest, the largest, and the one with the fewest Chinese culinary varieties. Readers and visitors know that many Fujianese and Cantonese eateries are represented there. More spread out and larger than ever, it is not as varied two of them in Queens. Also, are you aware of its many bakeries, dumpling emporia, and noodle shops, as well as its restaurants? Check our index listings, make yourself a list of all of them. Then walk on East Broadway from the East River to the main part of Chinatown and be sure to go south and north of Canal Street.

In Queens, two areas come to mind and came to Seitsma, they are in Flushing and Elmhurst. The former is huge, around Main Street and Kissena Blvd from the Long Island Expressway to Northern Blvd. Check out the blocks north of Roosevelt Avenue, many times bigger than Manhattan's Chinatown, with many times as many eateries, bakeries, supermarkets, and more. Suggest you start at the Long Island Expressway and be prepared to do lots of hiking. In Elmhurst, it is less concentrated, and some places are even in Jackson Heights. Look for places around 45th Avenue, Broadway; etc. Be sure to check out both sides of Queens Boulevard for Indian-Chinese, Korean-Chinese, Sichuan-Chinese, and other Chinese food variations. Brooklyn also has two Chinatown areas. One is in the Sunset Park area on Seventh and Eighth Avenues on many blocks both sides of 49th and 50th Streets. The other is on both sides of Avenue U from the twelve hundred to twenty-eight hundred block. This borough has less variety than either in Queens, but it is growing beyond its Cantonese roots. So go and report your adventures. We will be delighted to learn about them. We do our exploring, except for in Manhattan, by car in all of these and in the growing Chinese food area in Staten Island.

From MICKEY via e-mail:
Did you read about Chinese take-out containers in the magazine section of the New York Times? Perhaps you should tell all readers about who made them and when.
MICKEY: Yes, we did see it on page 20 of the January 15 issue. In it we learned this common white folded paper take-out container with a wire handle was patented by Frederick Weeks Wilcox in Chicago in November 1894. No, we have never seen them in use in China, did know they are poly-coated, and with that wire handle, they should never be used in a microwave.

From LUCAS in California:
Mrs. Newman's brief summary of Chinese medical dietary principles and drug therapy contain a number of errors that I believe distort Chinese medical history. She frequently uses the acronym TCM, but this was compiled in the mid-twentieth century as part of the revolutionary government’s attempt to establish an affordable distributable method of health care to the country’s population.
LUCAS: To clarify things as we know them, let us share many sources including those of the magazine China Today. We had before, and have since, contacted academics in China who told us that many folk in China never thought about the letters TCM which they translate as Zhong Yi. They said that "Zhong Yi happened in the 19th century after the Westernization Movement (1861 - 1994 CE)." A Western medical doctor in China told us it was used "to differentiate it from Xi Yi or Western Medicine." Still another medical professional said "in some articles Zhong Yi was first used by the East India Company in 1840 CE." One doctor went on to advise that in 1936 CE, the Kuomintang Government proclaimed "Rules and Regulations of Traditional Chinese Medicine" or Zhong Yi Tiao Li, and before that, locals (which he called 'natives') used to call it "Han Medicine, Traditional Medicine, and/or National Medicine." We have clarified where our information comes from and that we are Registered Dietitians, not trained doctors. We did ask you before your second reply with additional criticism as to what is your training, to better understand your position. We also invited you to write an article stating same. You have not replied these many months.

From HARLEY, on Long Island:
Do you know this egg fruit?
HARLEY: Thank you for educating us, as we did not know the item pictured. Learned it is Pouteria campechiana or yellow sapote. The source we later checked on said "it looks like the yolk of an egg, its texture resembles the appearance of a hard-cooked egg, it is rich and sweet, and is somewhat like a baked sweet potato." Elsewhere, we learned this fruit is highly esteemed in El Salvador, known and eaten in Peru where one variety called Mamey sapota when cooked with sugar and cinnamon is called pozol. As you said you bought it in Flushing at a Chinese market, we did call several Chinese friends. Only one knew of it and she told us that in Taiwan, some folks use it to make a sweet beverage.

From SUCKIE via e-mail:
I am confused, what color are osmanthus flowers and what is their relation to tea tree oil?
SUKIE: You are not alone; we would say you are in good company, perhaps in a crowd who are unsure about this bushy plant with its small flowers. One reason may be because there are more than thirty species of these flowers that the Chinese call gui hua. Some advise they are from 'sweet olive trees' while others say they are the flowers of the tea tree’ or the 'olive tea tree' and related plants. These many species are in the Oleaceae family of plants, the one said to originate in China is known as Osmanthus heterophyllus. Its flowers are yellow-white, some would argue they are golden white; and the argument continues as to their aroma, some saying it is close to that of a ripe apricot, others recite no-no as it is closer to the faint smell of citrus. Not an expert, we suggest you do your own research and hang in with those whose beliefs seem most realistic to you. Our interest and expertise is in its roles culinary. That said, check out the index listings at this magazine's website, read Helen Chen's article in Volume 13(1) titled Hanzhou: A Culinary Memoir and the one titled: Food as Herbs, Health, and Medicine years earlier in Volume 5(2) on pages 13 and 14, consult Chinese and other cookbooks, and other sources. Both these articles have a recipe using Chinese osmanthus jam, made from the flowers. And, keep in mind that Chinese traditional practitioners and the cosmetic industry in general, recommend it for improving one’s skin, that is one’s complection; some even say osmanthus rids the body of nitric oxide.

Simple Cauliflower, Bai Style
1 small head of cauliflower
2 Tablespoons coarse salt
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a cleaver, then divided into two batches
1. Discard, leaves, and the core from the cauliflower and divide it into florets.
2. Bring four cups of water to the boil in a large pot or a wok. Add one tablespoon of the salt and the cauliflower florets and boil for two minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Discard the hot water and with a paper towel, dry the wok or pot, and add the oil and turn the heat to high.
3. Add the garlic and stir-fry for one to two minutes until the garlic browns, but does not burn. Set half the browned garlic aside and add the cauliflower and stir-fry for one minute before adding the remaining salt, stir-frying for half a minute, then put the cauliflower into a pre-heated serving dish.
4. Top with the rest of the browned garlic, and serve.
Spiced Pea-jelly, Bai Style
1/2 pound wheat-flour noodles
1/2 pound fresh green peas, their skins removed
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons peanuts, ground
1 Tablespoon sesame paste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 scallion, minced
1. Boil the noodles until almost tender, rinse in cool water, drain, and set them aside.
2. Mix peeled peas with one cup of cold water, bring to the boil, and stir in the peas and simmer for fifteen minutes until they are soft and can be mashed with a fork. Remove and pour them into a fine strainer, mash them in the strainer with a fork, and discard the solids.
3. Put the mashed peas into a small pot, add the garlic, ground peanuts, pepper, salt, vinegar, and the sugar, and simmer until this makes a thick paste. Then add the finely minced scallion and stir for one minute. Then allow to set overnight in a cool place or in the refrigerator.
4. Cut the pea-jelly into small pieces the size of fresh green peas.
5. Pour boiling water over the noodles and allow them to sit for two minutes, drain well, then toss with the pea-jelly pieces, and serve.

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